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Global Health Initiatives For Children: The Good News Is…

Jim McHardy

Despite reports from the World Health Organization that children are dying at a younger age than their parents these days, the good news is that there are many global health initiatives and plans of action in place to improve the health of children worldwide.

A Global Health Trend For Children

I read the report from the Healthy By Nature forum and was alarmed by a startling fact: “The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that this is the first time in history that children will die at a younger age than their parents.”

How can this be, with all the resources, research and scientific breakthroughs at this time?

There are many answers to this question but, most importantly, there are also some plans of action that can turn this trend around. While much of reduced life expectancy is linked to what happens after childhood, I believe the critical focus needs to be on the zero to 16 age group.

Current Child Mortality Statistics and Facts

The good news about this health trend for children is that the glass is half full. The World Health Organization’s 2011 report notes:

  • Fewer children are dying. Annual global deaths of children under five years of age fell to 8.1 million in 2009 from 12.4 million in 1990.
  • Fewer children are underweight. The percentage of underweight children under five years old is estimated to have dropped from 25% in 1990 to 16% in 2010.
  • Fewer people are contracting HIV. New HIV infections have declined by 17% globally from 2001–2009.
  • Tuberculosis treatment is more successful. Existing cases of TB are declining, along with deaths among HIV-negative TB cases.
  • More people have safe drinking-water.

Global Initiatives For Healthy Children

The one issue that brings together all faiths, countries and political agendas is the health of our children. Successful initiatives for improving the health of children include:

  • Every Woman Every Child is an unprecedented global movement, spearheaded by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, to mobilize and intensify global action to improve the health of women and children around the world. Working with leaders from governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society, Every Woman Every Child aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children and improve the lives of millions more.
  • Many initiatives are now in place to deal with the important issue of mental health stigma, including the Dare to Dream Program which is coordinated by youth and designed for youth who are interested in making your peers and community more aware of mental illness and decreasing the stigma that is typically associated with it.
  • The Directory of Children and Youth Activities in Support of Clean Air—The Canadian Institute of Child Health developed a directory of children’s and youth activities in support of clean air across Canada for the Air Pollution Prevention Directorate of Environment Canada. Many organizations are engaged in public outreach activities directed at encouraging Canadians to make choices and take actions that promote clean air.
  • The No Child Left Inside Movement has grown exponentially over the last two years fueled by research, legislation, and the commitment of school boards, associations and parents to support healthy children.

We live in a time where we often focus on statistics and problems but where there is also recognition of the importance of children’s wellness and where actions are in place to support it. That is the good news.

* * * * *

Are there initiatives or plans of action in place in your community to help increase awareness of and support global health for children? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Related:

The Importance of Family, Peers and Nature for Children’s Mental Health

Ways to Identify Mental Illness — and Help Save Our Children

The Importance of Developing Healthy Self-Esteem

The Importance of Fresh, Healthy Food for Kids

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