Health Day 2003
"Healthy Environments for Children"
Message by H.E. Mr. Jan Kavan, President of the 57th Session of
the United Nations General Assembly
years ago the United Nations designated April 7th as World Health
Day to raise awareness of issues affecting our health and well-being.
The commemoration this year is focused on the most vulnerable
segment of our society - our children. "Healthy Environments
for Children," the theme for World Health Day this year,
is indeed a timely reminder of the world community's responsibility
towards our future generations.
to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are six groups of
environmental health hazards for children that must be tackled
as priority issues. These are household water security, lack of
hygiene and poor sanitation, air pollution, vector-borne diseases,
chemical hazards, and unintentional injuries brought about by
accidents. As a result of these six broad hazards, over 5 million
children between birth and 14 years of age die annually, mainly
in the developing world. These are appalling statistics because
most of these deaths are regarded as preventable.
dire situation facing children in unhealthy environments is intimately
linked with issues such as poverty, lack of adequate nutrition,
education and poor sanitary conditions. These issues are included
in and have priority within the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Because of their importance, WHO has continued to make strides
in championing the plight of the vulnerable, mainly because they
suffer disproportionately from the consequences of polluted environmental
conditions. It is obvious that affording children at least the
minimum in environmental standards is necessary to empower them
for their future. As such, I believe it is imperative that we
continue to push for measures at all levels of society that alleviate
these worsening conditions.
an umbrella coalition, born out of the World Summit on Sustainable
Development, of various government sectors, civil society groups
and NGOs, the private sector and the United Nations, is working
together under the Healthy Environments for Children Alliance
(HECA). This collaboration allows members of the Alliance to address
and tackle the needs in many communities and countries to develop
and implement effective policies in a coherent way, and to raise
awareness, with the goal of informing and influencing policy and
decision-makers on pertinent measures for protecting and promoting
healthy environments for children. I earnestly hope that this
partnership can press forward with supplying the urgently needed
assistance to communities that are affected by environmental degradation.
would like to commend the World Health Organization for raising
awareness on this issue and urge them and other agencies such
as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and others to continuously
campaign to improve the well-being of children at national policy
our rapidly globalizing world, with its enormous potential for
information sharing, we hope that the national and local authorities
together with multilateral organizations, will continue to adopt
and promote integrated solutions to children's health. All Member
States of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Millennium
Development Goals and among these goals they have pledged to try
to reduce the infant mortality rate by two thirds by the year
2015. I would like to convey my good wishes to everyone involved
in implementing programmes to achieve the Millennium Goals and
hope that the necessary inputs will be made available to those
in need by the various partners related to this issue.