By Maria Saporta
Every day 19,000 children die from preventable causes — imagine a sold-out Philips Arena of children dying day after day after day.
“It’s obscene,” said Dr. Ed Lloyd, chief operating and financial officer of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “Have any of us read about this appalling tragedy in the newspaper — about 19,000 children dying every day? Many children are just forgotten…. I’m just outraged that this is not being blasted in the media. Nearly half of these deaths are occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Lloyd was speaking as part of a special reception on “Connecting Atlanta to Africa Through Global Citizenship” on Feb. 21 at the Robert W. Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center. It was part of the W.E.B. Du Bois and the Wings of Atlanta Conference at Clark Atlanta University to help educate students on the importance of global citizenship.
It also was an opportunity to highlight a “Believe in Zero” event that UNICEF will hold in Atlanta on Sunday, April 28 at the Mason Murer Fine Art Gallery to celebrate the UNICEF experience in Atlanta. “Believe in Zero” is a campaign by UNICEF for a world where no child dies from preventable causes.
As alarming a number as 19,000 children dying every day, it actually is a significant improvement from two decades ago when 33,000 children died each day from preventable causes, according to Lloyd.
A concerted effort by global entities — governmental, nonprofits, philanthropists and corporations — have helped improve the delivery of vaccines and medicines as well as access to clean water and healthier living environments. But the growing disparity in incomes, the increase in poverty and civil wars have impeded progress.
Bernard Taylor, board president of the Southeast Region for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, said that a large share of the organization’s resources are invested in Africa.
“But only a small portion of resources come from African-Americans,” Taylor said. “How can we change that dynamic? If we don’t make a difference, who will?”
Lloyd echoed that point. UNICEF’s total annual budget is about $4 billion with 60 percent of those funds going to Africa, where the problems are most acute. By comparison, only 5 percent of those contributions come from donors who are African-Americans.
At the same time, Lloyd said UNICEF is launching its “Believe in Zero” campaign in a few select cities — New York, Houston and Atlanta — because of a tradition of giving to the organization.
“Georgia has been the No. 2 state in making contributions to UNICEF,” Lloyd said.
Dr. Nicholas Alipui, director of UNICEF Programmes, provided a wealth of statistics on the state of various diseases and programs. For example, in 2010, 164 million mosquito nets were distributed in communities that were prone to malaria. Also, there has been a 78 percent reduction of death rates due to measles from 2000 to 2008.
Alipui was asked about how UNICEF interfaced with other global health organizations that are based in Atlanta — CARE USA, the Carter Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC Foundation, the Task Force for Global Health, the Rollins Center for Public Health, MAP International, MedShare, among others.
“We are in partnerships with every single one of them,” Alipui said. “Our strategy is leveraging, coordinating with governments and non-governmental agencies. This work is being done collaboratively with others. We are only as strong as our partnerships with others.”