Remarks by H.E. Mr. Oscar León González, Ambassador, Chargé d´Affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations within the framework of the First Regular Session of the UNICEF Executive Board. Adoption of the UNICEF Country Programme for Cuba. New York, 12 February 2020
I would like to begin by thanking the presence of UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Ford, and Mr. Bernt Aesen, UNICEF Regional Director a.i. for Latin America and the Caribbean, for their presence.
We also thank the panelists for the presentations made on the topic "Early Childhood Development". In this context, we appreciate the assessments made by Mrs. Consuelo Vidal, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Cuba, on the work of UNICEF in my country, whose work and results, in the opinion of the Cuban authorities, have been excellent.
Cuba is satisfied with the positive results shown by the implementation of the UNICEF Country Programme for Cuba for the period 2014-2019.
The new Country Programme Document for Cuba becomes an element of continuity and progress in favor of the well-being of our children and adolescents. It responds to the national necessities and priorities, aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework and also articulated with our National Economic and Social Development Plan until 2030.
The Programme is also consistent with the priorities outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which represents a benchmarking framework for collaboration between UNICEF and Cuba.
In like manner, it confirms the links developed over the years with friendly countries and cooperation partners, whom we thank for the support given for our development priorities.
We consider very appropriate the convening of this dialogue on early childhood development. A vital stage for children that determines the development of their future lives.
Cuba applies a holistic approach to early childhood development, providing a system of integrated services to children under six and their families, which aims at promoting the best start in life for the entire child population, and the maximum development of each child's potential. It has cross-sectoral programmes in place such as the mother and child care programme and the "Educate your child" programme, which aims at preparing the family to achieve the comprehensive development infants need from the home.
The well-being of children is an objective inherent to the Cuban social project, and its complete fulfillment is implemented through social policies, programmes and projects in the areas of health, education, social security and others.
These services have been generalized at the national level and today access to them is universal and free of charge for all children, with a specific attention to guarantee access for the most vulnerable.
Allow me to share with those present here today some of our headways:
Cuba guarantees the right to education for all children. We have achieved universal pre-school education, with 99.5 per cent of children under 6 years of age enrolled in the educational system.
Cuba ranks among the 35 countries with the lowest infant mortality rate around the world and among the first nations in the Latin American and Caribbean region, with an infant mortality rate in 2019 of 5.0 per 1000 live births. Childbirths are institutionalized and are assisted by trained personnel. The infant survival rate during the first five years of life has been over 99% for the last 20 years.
Cuba is proud to be the first country in the world to eliminate the mother-to-child transmission of HIV and congenital syphilis, a validation granted by the World Health Organization in 2015 and ratified last September.
Likewise, Cuban children receive systematic medical care by one of the 12,842 family doctors based in each community. Our children are attended in no less than 13 childcare appointments at the doctor´s office during their first year of life.
Through the National Immunization Programme, vaccination coverage of over 98 per cent was guaranteed in 2019. The entire child population is vaccinated against 13 diseases, including six that remain eradicated (diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, polio and pertussis), and the immunization schedule to include new vaccines is expected to be extended. With regard to nutrition, Cuba shows zero percent of severe child malnutrition.
Cuba trusts that the new Country Programme will make a significant contribution to maintaining and further developing the achievements attained regarding children and adolescents, which are the fruit of the Revolution and the efforts of the Cuban people.
I conclude by renewing Cuba's commitment to the work of UNICEF and its important role in favor of sustainable development. I would like to share a quotation from José Martí, Cuba's National Hero, which guides our work in these endeavors, and I quote: "It is for children that we work, because they are the ones who know how to love, because they are the hope of the world”.