Opalesque Industry Update – ARK launches programmes to reduce maternal death in Zimbabwe and infant death in Zambia, developing new South African education program with Her Majesty Queen Rania of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan|
The international children’s charity, ARK, (Absolute Return for Kids), today (13 May 2010) announced the launch of two new health programmes to save the lives of mothers and children in Zimbabwe and Zambia. The charity held its major gala fund raising dinner in Waterloo International station, attended by more than 800 guests and addressed by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
ARK announced it will work with Her Majesty’s foundation to develop a new education programme in South Africa, focused on school quality and leadership.
Speaking at the dinner, Her Majesty, Queen Rania of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, said: “I’m pleased that, in the coming year, my education foundation will partner with ARK to invest in South Africa’s teachers, through leadership training programmes, that will turn failing schools into first class institutions.”
ARK Chairman, Stanley Fink, said:“I want first to thank Her Majesty Queen Rania of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan for her support for ARK tonight. Her uncompromising work to achieve better education for children is an inspiration. We are delighted that we are working with her foundation to develop a new programme to raise educational achievement in South Africa by raising the quality and leadership in schools.
“This year ARK moved to a new stage in its development. Our seven year programme to provide antiretroviral therapy in South Africa has changed the lives of more than 115,000 children and treated 10 per cent of all patients on treatment in South Africa. As a sustainable, locally managed programme, it will continue its vital work and is a template for future development in the country.
“So tonight we launch two important new health programmes in Southern Africa to improve infant and maternal health.
“Diarrhoea kills more under-fives than AIDS, malaria and measles combined. Across Africa 700,000 children under five are killed by diarrhoea each year. Those deaths can be prevented. A third of those deaths are caused by rotavirus that can be treated with a $20 vaccine. We need to take action now. ARK will start in Zambia, where 14,000 children a year, die from diarrhoea. ARK will establish a comprehensive vaccination and treatment programme, creating a prevention model which can be rolled out nationally when funding is possible. At the start we aim to vaccinate 250,000 children over three to five years, saving thousands of lives.
“Such a large scale vaccination programme will create a strategic opportunity to open up the vaccine market, pushing prices down to levels that will make country wide vaccination an achievable goal. This is a game changing opportunity, one that can save lives far beyond Zambia, made possible by the stunning generosity of our guests tonight.
“In Zimbabwe maternal mortality has risen 500 per cent in 20 years. Life expectancy is now just 36 years. Inadequate care at birth is a huge killer of mothers and their babies. Poor hygiene and insufficient staff and medical equipment end the lives of thousands of mothers and babies. And HIV/AIDS, too often detected far too late, is the biggest single cause of maternal death.
“ARK’s maternal health programme will dramatically improve maternity and newborn care. ARK will help rural clinics create good quality maternity services with HIV testing, diagnosis and care, giving 45,000 mothers and their babies a better chance of survival.
“To lead these vital programmes ARK today announces the appointment of Charles Abani as Chief International Adviser. Charles is a respected development practitioner with long experience who joins us from being Oxfam’s Regional Director for Southern Africa. I am delighted to welcome him to ARK at this important point in our development.
“Tonight our donors made this work a priority. Once again we asked for support in a tough year. As ever, our guests’ generosity is astounding. This evening our guests pledged £1.1m to fund rotavirus treatment in Zambia, and £1.0m to support maternal health in Zimbabwe, enabling ARK to treat 30,000 mothers and 44,000 children. Once again we thank our donors for their outstanding and generous support.”
ARK DINNER RAISES £14.1m
ARK’s founding chairman, Arpad Busson said: “I am immensely grateful to our sponsors, in particular to our anchor sponsor, BlueCrest, and to Bloomberg, without whom this evening simply would not have been possible. Tonight we set out our priorities for future development. We launched important new programmes in health and set out our commitment to new education programmes in India and South Africa as well as the next stage in the development of our academies programme.
“Our UK academies and school leadership programmes are outstanding. Our eight academies teach 4,500 pupils in some of England’s most deprived inner cities. By next year they will be teaching 6,000. Our GCSE improvement is already the best of any academy chain and every school is winning praise from Ofsted – but we have to do more.
“The challenges are immense. Our pupils are from the poorest communities. Between them, our pupils speak more than 40 languages and as many as 60% start secondary school a year or more behind in reading. With ARK’s help, they are making heroic progress but the hurdles they have to overcome are what make our work so urgent. But we need to be able to help more children earlier in their school career.
“That is why we are extending the work of our academy network to help tackle primary under achievement to ensure that more children get the start in life they deserve.”
“As trustees we are stunned by generosity of ARK’s supporters. Your support tonight and throughout the year changes the lives of thousands of children. We are extremely grateful for your commitment and trust.”