Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Unhealthy Environments a Major Threat to Young Children

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Unhealthy Environments a Major Threat to Young Children

Article excerpt

The first-ever Atlas of Children's Health, published by WHO on 22 June, attributes the annual deaths of more than three million children under the age of five to environment-related hazards such as unsafe water and sanitation, indoor and outdoor air pollution and climate change. Whilst only 10% of the world's population is under five years old, 40% of the environment-related disease burden falls on children in this age group.

The illustrated Atlas of children's environmental health and the environment, launched during the Fourth European Conference of Health and Environment Ministers in Budapest, Hungary, aims to illustrate the impact of the environment on children's health. According to the Atlas, diarrhoea which is often caused by unclean water, kills an estimated 1.8 million people worldwide every year, 1.6 million of whom are children under the age of five.

"Children are the main sufferers of environmental hazards. It is unacceptable from every point of view that the most vulnerable members of a society should be the ones who pay the price for failures to protect health from environmental dangers," said WHO Director-General, Dr LEE Jong-wook, during the launch.

It is hoped that the facts contained in the publication will draw attention to the urgent need for a more effective response to the United Nations Millennium Declaration which calls on governments to reduce by two-thirds the under-five mortality rate by 2015. …

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