No country is sufficiently protecting children for the future, says a landmark report published on Wednesday by an independent health commission set up by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the medical journal The Lancet.
With climate and commercial threats intensifying, the commission has called for a radical rethink of how societies keep kids healthy.
The report – which called out the dangers from ecological destruction, climate change and exploitative marketing – was put together by more than 40 experts and is called “A Future for the World’s Children?”.
Commercial practices that push sugary drinks and fast food, as well as alcohol and tobacco, were singled out.
“Despite improvements in child and adolescent health over the past 20 years, progress has stalled, and is set to reverse,” said Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand and co-chair of the commission.
“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,” Clark added.
The report uses a new global index measuring performance in child flourishing for 180 nations, including metrics for wellbeing such as nutrition and education, in addition to sustainability and inequality.