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close this bookPlan of Action for the Survival, Protection and Development of Children (United Nations)
close this folderII. Specific actions for child survival, protection and development
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe Convention on the Rights of the Child
View the documentChild health
View the documentFood and nutrition
View the documentRole of women, maternal health and family planning
View the documentRole of the family
View the documentBasic education and literacy
View the documentChildren in especially difficult circumstances
View the documentProtection of children during armed conflicts
View the documentChildren and the environment
View the documentAlleviation of poverty and revitalization of economic growth

Child health

9. Preventable childhood diseases - such as measles, polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, whooping cough and diphtheria, against which there are effective vaccines, and diarrhoeal diseases, pneumonia and other acute respiratory infections that can be prevented or effectively treated through relatively low-cost remedies - are currently responsible for the great majority of the world's 14 million deaths of children under 5 years and disability of millions more every year. Effective action can and must be taken to combat these diseases by strengthening primary health care and basic health services in all countries.

10. Besides these readily preventable or treatable diseases and some others, such as malaria, which have proved more difficult to combat, children today are faced with the new spectre of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic. In the most seriously affected countries HIV/AIDS threatens to offset the gains of child survival programmes. It is already a major drain on limited public health resources needed to support other priority health services. The consequences of HIV/AIDS go well beyond the suffering and death of the infected child and include risks and stigmas that affect parents and siblings and the tragedy of "AIDS orphans". There is an urgent need to ensure that programmes for the prevention and treatment of AIDS, including research on possible vaccines and cures that can be applicable in all countries and situations, and massive information and education campaigns, receive a high priority for both national action and international co-operation.

11. A major factor affecting the health of children as well as adults is the availability of clean water and safe sanitation. These are not only essential for human health and well-being, but also contribute greatly to the emancipation of women from the drudgery that has a pernicious impact on children, especially girls. Progress in child health is unlikely to be sustained if one third of the developing world's children remain without access to clean drinking water and half of them without adequate sanitary facilities.

12. Based on the experience of the past decade, including the many innovations in simple, low-cost techniques and technologies to provide clean water and safe sanitary facilities in rural areas and urban shanty towns, it is now desirable as well as feasible, through concerted national action and international co-operation, to aim at providing all the world's children with universal access to safe drinking water and sanitary means of excreta disposal by the year 2000. An important related benefit of universal access to water and sanitation combined with health education will be the control of many water-borne diseases, among them elimination of guinea-worm disease (dracunculiasis), which currently afflicts some 10 million children in parts of Africa and Asia.