Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

World's Children Need Peace Dividend

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

World's Children Need Peace Dividend

Article excerpt

INVESTMENT in children pays off for nations.

That's the contention of James Grant, executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Those countries that dramatically improve child health and education also experience the greatest economic growth, he says. As examples, he cites Japan and, more recently, the newly industrializing countries of Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and South Korea.

It's a point Mr. Grant makes not only for the benefit of other developing countries, but for the United States. In this country, he said in an interview, the safety net for children is weaker now than 10 years ago. In New York City today, around 40 percent of the children are raised in poverty, he reckons. That's far higher than the 13 percent in 1969 or the 19 percent in 1979. On top of this, many children in New York (and elsewhere) are victims of the drugs, AIDs, and violence that are ravaging their families.

The US, Grant maintains, needs to do more for the education and health of its children if America is to remain competitive. He regards the mortality rate for children in the US as a disgrace for an advanced industrial society. Of each 1,000 children born alive, 13 die before the age of five. That's worse than any other major industrial democracy. It's even higher than crowded Hong Kong, with a mortality rate of 10.

Grant's major goal during his decade at the head of UNICEF has been the saving of children's lives through low-cost medical care, better nutrition, and improved sanitation. An American, Grant wants to advance that goal with a World Summit for Children, scheduled Sept. 29-30 in New York. It is the first time that leaders from around the globe - some 60 of them from North, South, East, and West - will join together to try to resolve some of the universal problems that children encounter in surviving and developing to adulthood.

At this time, some 40,000 children under the age of five die every day in the developing countries, largely from preventable causes. Grant figures technological advances already being implemented in health and communications will save the lives of 25 million children during this decade. …

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