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World|opinion & analysis|February 21, 2020 / 02:08 PM
‘Not a single country’ does enough to help children flourish, say health experts
© UNICEF/Sebastian Rich Five-year-old Kiara makes a sale in a commuter train car in Buenos Aires, the capital. She has been working in the Subte, the city’s mass transit system, selling hairpins and other cheap goods, since she was three years old.

AKIPRESS.COM - The world’s survival depends on children being able to flourish, but no country is doing enough to give them a sustainable future, dozens of highly respected international health experts said on February 19.

In a UN-backed report assessing the capacity of 180 countries to ensure that their youngsters can survive and thrive, the authors highlight numerous “immediate” threats to their health, environment and opportunities.

These include runaway greenhouse gas emissions, predatory advertising and deepening inequality in and among countries.

“No country in the world is currently providing the conditions we need to support every child to grow up and have a healthy future,” said Anthony Costello, Professor of Global Health and Sustainability at University College London, one of the lead authors of the report, commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The Lancet medical journal.

“Especially, they’re under immediate threat from climate change and from commercial marketing, which has grown hugely in the last decade,” Professor Costello – former ;WHO Director of Mother, Child and Adolescent health – told journalists.

Growing inequality “in all countries” is also responsible for undermining children’s prospects, Professor Costello maintained.

This is the case even in wealthy industrialized nations like the United Kingdom, which had “very serious issues” with child poverty and inequality.

“The poorest countries have a long way to go to let their children be healthy, but the wealthy countries are threatening the future of all children through these excessive carbon emissions,” he said.

“We agree with Greta Thunberg when she says our world is on fire.”
250 million children under five at risk

An estimated 250 million children under five in low and middle-income countries are at risk of not reaching their development potential, said former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Co-Chair of the Commission, Helen Clark.

“But of even greater concern, every child worldwide now faces existential threats from climate change and commercial pressures,” she stressed.

Data for the report – A Future For The World’s Children – was gathered according to criteria that included survival and death rates, educational achievement and nutrition.

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