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UNICEF hails Mexico's initiative on child welfare

(Xinhua)

10:13, December 29, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 28 (Xinhua) -- An official with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday welcomed a new initiative from the Mexican government that aims at improving child welfare, saying it's a "breakthrough" to improve social equity for children and adolescents.

"Mexico's economic trends are promising. But behind positive national averages and Mexico being one of the world's 15 largest economies in terms of gross domestic product (GDP), lies a reality of poverty and marginalization of thousands of children," Susana Sottoli, UNICEF representative in Mexico, said in a press release.

While parts of the country have development levels close to those of Scandinavia, she said, others are more in line with sub- Saharan Africa.

In rural Mexico, 27 percent of children live in extreme poverty as compared to eight percent who live in cities, according to UNICEF.

Children from indigenous communities are often the most marginalized due to lack of access to quality education and other crucial services. As a result, the new program, an annex to Mexico 's 2012 federal budget, will place 41 billion U.S. dollars, more than 15 percent of the total annual budget, of investment to spending measures that target education, children's health and nutrition, and protection against abuse and violence.

The annex was approved by the Mexican government on Dec. 22.

"This innovation is a breakthrough towards greater transparency in the promotion of equity, and is also bound to benefit the national economy, as well as inclusiveness and cohesion," said Sottoli, adding that the Mexican initiative could "show the path towards equity in the region and beyond."

The new measure is the result of close cooperation between UNICEF and Mexico's finance ministry, which has also created monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to produce quarterly reports on the implementation of the new expenditure plan.

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