Children and NCDs - A Call for Justice, Not Charity at the UN General Assembly
There is a lot of momentum leading up to the UN Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), and CLAN is committed to the integration of children within all NCD policies and discussions. Unless specific efforts are made to address the special needs of children, they risk being systematically excluded from all discussions and policies... the status quo must not be allowed to continue!
Opportunities to speak at St Jude's recent Global Summit in Memphis; the Global Health Council Conference in Washington; and the UN Civil Society Interactive Hearing in New York at the UN Headquarters were embraced recently, and CLAN's role as Chair of the Child-focused Working Group has allowed us to network with an amazing group of enthusiastic, dedicated and passionate people, all equally committed to raising the profile of children ahead of - and beyond - the UN Summit on NCDs.
Below is a copy of the speech read out by Dr Kate Armstrong in the UN General Assembly on 16 June 2011 ( also available for viewing online). Let's hope the powerful people heard the voices of the children and will include them in the zero draft as we head into the Summit preparations!
Don’t Forget Our Future!
A voice for children who are living with NCDs today
Dr Kate Armstrong
President and Founder, CLAN (Caring & Living as Neighbours)
Chair, Child-focused Working Group, NCD Alliance
16 June 2011
UN Civil Society Interactive Hearing
I speak today as President and Founder of the non-profit NGO CLAN (Caring & Living as Neighbours) and have been working as the Chair of the Child-focused Working Group of the NCD Alliance. I am here to share the voices of the millions of children and adolescents around the world who are living with chronic health conditions here and now. Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) are at the forefront of our minds as we approach the UN Summit in September 2011, but it is important to note that any chronic health condition – be it asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, autism, epilepsy, endemic NCDs, HIV/AIDS or TB – has the potential to destroy our children if not prevented, diagnosed or managed appropriately.
Member states have long acknowledged that children as a vulnerable group are entitled to special care and assistance. In 1989 the international community made a clear commitment to the rights of children with the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which guaranteed an all encompassing set of human rights, including the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health. The near universal ratification of this Child focused Convention makes a rights based approach central to NCD discourse and policies
Yet despite this widely ratified convention, the reality is that enormous global inequities exist for children living with chronic health conditions in low and middle-income countries.
The thousands of families CLAN works with throughout Asia provide valuable lessons on the power of a community based approach to working together to effect sustainable change. When we identify children living with the same chronic health condition as members of a distinct non-geographically based community, we empower them to engage with a broad range of multisectoral stakeholders to unite to achieve 5 key deliverables that families have identified:
- Affordable access to essential medicine and equipment
- Education, Research and Advocacy
- Optimal medical management (primary, secondary and tertiary prevention and a holistic approach to health)
- Family support group networks and
- A pathway to financial independence and freedom from poverty.
For member states and civil society needing proof of the importance of including children in all NCD policies, I draw your attention to the evidence-based document produced by the Child-focused Working Group of the NCD Alliance. This policy paper clearly reflects that children are the cornerstone to the prevention of the NCD epidemic we face.
On behalf of children and families all around the world I call on member states of the United Nations, UN agencies including UNICEF and the private sector alongside civil society to specifically address and include children in all NCD policies as a matter of justice, not charity. We must not forget our future.