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‘A Future for the World’s Children’ report

Topics Covered: Issues related to health.

‘A Future for the World’s Children’ report

What to study?

For Prelims: Key findings of the survey- performance of India and other countries.

For Mains: Concerns expressed, challenges ahead and measures suggested.

Context: ‘A Future for the World’s Children’ report was recently released by the WHO, UNICEF and the Lancet medical journal. The report calculates the Flourishing Index and Sustainability Index of 180 countries.

How are the countries ranked?

  1. Flourishing Index:

Flourishing is the geometric mean of Surviving and Thriving.

  • The parameter of Surviving considers maternal survival, survival in children younger than 5 years old, suicide, access to maternal and child health services, basic hygiene, sanitation, and lack of extreme poverty.
  • The parameter of Thriving considers educational achievement, growth and nutrition, reproductive freedom, and protection from violence.
  1. Sustainability Index:

The Sustainability Index ranks countries on the basis of excess carbon emissions compared with the 2030 target.

Performance of India:

  1. India stands 77th (sustainability index) and is at 131st on a ranking that measures the best chance at survival and well-being for children.
  2. India has improved in health and sanitation but has to increase its spending on health.

Global Scenario:

  1. Children in Norway, the Republic of Korea and the Netherlands have the best chance at survival and well-being.
  2. Children in the Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger and Mali face the worst odds.
  3. World-wide the number of obese children and adolescents has increased from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016 — an 11-fold increase, with dire individual and societal costs.
  4. The only countries on track to beat the CO2 emission per capita targets by 2030, while also performing fairly (within the top 70) on child flourishing measures are: Albania, Armenia, Grenada, Jordan, Moldova, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay and Vietnam.

Concerns expressed:

No single country is adequately protecting children’s health, their environment and their futures.

Threats: Health and future of every child and adolescent worldwide is under immediate threat from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practices that push heavily processed fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at children.

Progress reversing: Despite improvements in child and adolescent health over the past 20 years, progress has stalled, and is set to reverse. It has been estimated that around 250 million children under five years old in low- and middle-income countries are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential, based on proxy measures of stunting and poverty.

Need of hour:

  1. Overhaul approach to child and adolescent health, to ensure that we not only look after our children today but protect the world they will inherit in the future.
  2. Stop CO2 emissions with the utmost urgency, to ensure children have a future on this planet.
  3. Place children and adolescents at the centre of our efforts to achieve sustainable development.
  4. New policies and investment in all sectors to work towards child health and rights.
  5. Incorporate children’s voices into policy decisions.
  6. Tighten national regulation of harmful commercial marketing, supported by a new Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Sources: the Hindu.