We appreciate your introductory statement and we join the rest of the delegations that have congratulated you on your election.
We would like to convey our congratulations to Ms. Henrietta H. Fore, on her appointment and her willingness to work jointly for the well-being of the girls and boys.
The achievements of UNICEF and its work during the past year are praiseworthy. Both the Strategic Plan 2018-2021 and the rest of the programmatic documents of the Organization should continue to confirm UNICEF's commitment to the mandates of the recent Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review related to the operational activities for development (QCPR), its alignment with the 2030 Agenda and its capacity to respond to the pressing demands of our countries; aiming at achieving the well-being of all boys and girls of the world, particularly those who still live in extreme poverty.
We would like to highlight, in particular, the efforts of UNICEF to reduce the impact of HIV / AIDS on children and adolescents. Likewise, we consider it is essential the priority granted to guarantee and strengthen access to and quality of universal and free education for girls and boys, which constitutes a fundamental human right.
Despite the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on my country, Cuba continues to make progress in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, where children and young people have a crucial role.
At the end of 2017, Cuba reached again the lowest infant mortality rate in its history, with 4.0 per 1,000 live births. This result is in keeping with the humanistic and social justice essence of our system and it is the product of the daily efforts of our health professionals and of the commitment and political will of the Cuban Government to guarantee the right to free health care to all its population without discrimination.
The UNICEF office in our country and its regional representation for Latin America and the Caribbean has highlighted that Cuba has an integrated system, constantly strengthening, that promotes the protection, care and development of early childhood. Proof of this is that 99.5% of more than 855,000 children from 0 to 6 years old attend an early childhood education program or institution. This is complemented by the effective imbrication and role of the family and the community in the implementation of the "Educate your Child" Cuban program.
What has been achieved does not stop us, we are aware that much remains to be done at a national level. We are confident that we can achieve our goals with a strong social commitment and the political will to guarantee the future through the well-being of our children. That has been one of our priorities for more than 50 years.
I conclude with the call to continue strengthening the presence and support of UNICEF in Cuba and in the middle-income countries as a whole, in a context in which new and no less complex challenges await us.
Thank you very much.