UN health agency appoints Ethiopian supermodel as goodwill ambassador

With half a million women dying during childbirth each year and 11 million children never seeing their fifth birthday, the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today appointed Ethiopian supermodel Liya Kebede to the post of Goodwill Ambassador to highlight the problems and the solutions.As Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Mrs. Kebede will help WHO in its campaign to improve these areas, especially in developing countries where the death toll is highest.“Liya is a perfect ambassador for this issue – not only is she a young woman and a working mother – she is an Ethiopian who has risen to the top of her industry. She has experienced firsthand the huge gap that exists between two very different worlds and she passionately wants to use her global success and visibility to help bridge this gap,” WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook said at the ceremony in WHO’s Geneva headquarters.Her first official function will be to take part in the global World Health Day celebrations on 7 April in New Delhi, India, when the World Health Report focusing on mothers and children will be launched, WHO said.Noting the high proportion of women and children who die in her own country, the New York-based Mrs. Kebede said, “I am completely committed to using my profile to help ensure that these women and children’s deaths no longer go unnoticed and unchallenged.”One of the goals of the Millennium Declaration, agreed at a UN summit in 2000, is to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters and child mortality by two-thirds by 2015.

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