Health Impacts on our Children

Children are the most vulnerable in our society. Children also breathe 50 percent more air per pound than adults. It is the responsibility of every adult citizen on our global planet to take every precaution to protect our children and mitigate against climate change.  Just as all children must have the right to clean drinking water, all children must have the right to breathe clean air.
At a press conference to launch UNICEF’s new publication, Climate Change and Children, she said climate change was often viewed in terms of its dramatic, obvious manifestations, such as the increase in the number of natural disasters and extremes in temperature.  But the overlooked “quiet impact” often hit children even harder, as with the effects of desertification, water scarcity and the abandonment of land that could no longer sustain families.  That led to children missing school because they had to long walk distances in search of water or shivering from malaria in the cold.
As usual, she said, poor people paid the highest price because they lived in the areas most at risk from climate change, and among the poor, children suffered the most, paying with their health, their development and often with their lives.  “So climate change is not just an environmental issue.  It is an economic, social and human issue,” she emphasized.  Each year more than 3 million children under the age of five died from environmentally linked diseases, including diarrhoeal ailments linked to water accessibility, respiratory illnesses and malaria, which thrived on heat and humidity to kill a million people each year, 80 per cent of whom were children.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that the number of children dying from asthma each year could increase by 20 per cent by 2016 if urgent action was not taken to reduce emissions from vehicles and factories.
The UNICEF delegation’s message to Government leaders in Bali was that actions taken to protect the environment would directly impact on the rights of children.
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