News Excerpt
Recently released report titled ‘A future for the World’s Children’ warns about climate change, conflict and harmful marketing practices that drive obesity and threaten the health and future of children worldwide.

•    The report is released by the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and leading medical journal, The Lancet. The report analyzed data from 180 countries and compared performance on child survival and wellbeing, based on health, education, nutrition, equity and sustainability.
•    The index shows that children in Norway, the Republic of Korea and the Netherlands have the best chance at survival and well-being, while children in the Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger and Mali face the worst odds.

    The reports estimated that around 250 million children (under five years of age), in low and middle income countries are at risk of not reaching their development potential.
    According to the report, if global warming exceeds 4˚ C by the year 2100 in line with current projections, this would lead to rising ocean level, heat wave, proliferation of diseases like malaria and dengue and malnutrition. All this will have devastating health consequences for children.
    The report also highlights the distinct threat posed to children from harmful marketing.
    The report links predatory marketing to the alarming rise in childhood obesity. Children’s exposure to commercial marketing of junk food and sugary beverages is associated with purchase of unhealthy foods and consequent obesity.

    Despite dramatic improvements in survival, nutrition, and education over recent decades, today’s children face an uncertain future. Climate change, ecological degradation, migrating populations, conflict, pervasive inequalities, and predatory commercial practices threaten the health and future of children in every country.  
    The report calculates the Flourishing Index (that measures the best chance at survival and well-being for children) and Sustainability Index (that takes into account per capita carbon emissions and the ability of children in a nation to live healthy lives) of 180 countries.
    India stands 77th on sustainability index and is at 131st on a ranking that measures the best chance at survival and well- being for children. The report says India has improved in health and sanitation but has to increase its spending on health.
    While some of the poorest countries have the lowest CO2 emissions, many are exposed to the harshest impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Promoting better conditions today for children to survive and thrive nationally should not be at the cost of eroding children’s future globally.

This report thus shows that the world’s decision makers are, too often, failing to protect health of today’s children and youth, failing to protect their rights and failing to protect their planet. This must be a wakeup call for countries to invest in child health and development, ensure their voices are heard, protect their rights, and build a future that is fit for children.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), WHO, IPCC report