WHO urges drive against preventable diseases killing 5 million children each year
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) today called for an urgent, concerted worldwide campaign against preventable diseases, infections and accidents that kill 5 million children each year.
“These deaths can be prevented. We know what to do. We have developed strategies to combat these threats to children’s health. And yet we must do more to ensure that they are implemented widely, at global, national and local levels,” WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland said, launching World Health Day 2003 in New Delhi, India.
In dedicating the Day to ensuring a healthy environment for children, WHO noted that simple actions to improve that environments could prevent deaths caused by acute respiratory infections, vector-borne diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea, and accidents on roads and near homes.
“Today, World Health Day 2003, the World Health Organization is calling on Member States, the United Nations system, nongovernmental organizations and all other people with a stake in the future of our children’s well-being to take more effective, more visible and more concerted action to reduce the toll of environmental hazards on children’s lives,” it declared.
Stressing that the biggest threats to children’s health lurked in the very places that should be safest – home, school and community – Dr. Brundtland said: “It is a little known but devastating fact that every year over 5 million children ages 0 to 14 die, mainly in the developing world, from diseases related to their environments – the places where they live, learn and play.”
She emphasized every child’s right to grow up in a healthy home, school and community. “The future development of our children – and of their world – depends on their enjoying good health now,” she said. “We have their future in our hands. Now we must work more effectively together to reduce the risks from the environment which our children face.”