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Sri Lankan Legislators join South Asian Lawmakers to prioritise and safeguard Children’s rights: UN Chief

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Colombo, March 6, 2017: Sri Lankan legislators have joined lawmakers from across South Asia to prioritise and safeguard children’s rights, the UN children’s agency Unicef said on Monday.

According to the Unicef, despite economic growth and improvements in realising the rights of children, massive disparities still exist, preventing children from living in dignity, reaching their full potential and making choices about their futures.

Sri Lanka, home to eight million children under 18, has some of the region’s best health indicators, almost universal primary schooling, with nearly 90 per cent of the population having access to safe drinking water, Xinhua news agency reported.

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However, Unicef noted that violence against children, including physical abuse at home, remains a concern. While the rate of extreme poverty is declining (by 16 per cent between 2002 and 2012), child poverty rates remain higher.

“Even though our indicators are really good, we still have issues like child marriage, school dropouts and migration affecting children,” said Sudarshani Fernandopulle, an MP.

“Children remain at the heart of a country’s development and future economic growth. We need to invest more in policy reform and budgetary allocation in order to address the remaining disparities that prevent every child, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised, from reaching their full potential,” she said at a children’s regional meeting.

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Unicef said the meeting was a milestone in bringing together lawmakers from all eight countries in South Asia to prioritise, promote, and safeguard children’s rights.

It was an opportunity to plug in the critical role that parliamentarians can play in tackling key development challenges affecting children within the larger framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, it said. (IANS)

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UN Chief Calls For More Political Commitment on Non-Communicable Diseases

If these policies were implemented globally, they would save 10 million lives by 2025 and prevent 17 million strokes and heart attacks by 2030.

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Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gives a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, VOA

Seven in 10 people worldwide die from cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases, according to a study published in The Lancet earlier this month.

These diseases not only rob people prematurely of their lives, they cost enormous amounts of money. The Lancet report estimated that over the next 15 years, the costs to developing countries alone is projected to total more than $7 trillion.

Three years ago, world leaders pledged to reduce premature deaths from these non-communicable diseases by one-third by the year 2030.

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Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a news conference after an emergency committee meeting on the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, VOA

At Thursday’s U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said less than half of the world’s countries will meet that target, urging world leaders to recommit to these goals.

Tedros called for more political commitment and domestic investment. He said he knew from his own experience that “with political commitment, anything is possible. Without it, progress is slow.”

Tedros mentioned a list of what he called “best buys,” policy changes that cost little but produce huge rewards. “WHO’s best buys are cost-effective and affordable for all countries. Spending to build a healthier population is not a cost. It’s an investment in human capital that pays a rich reward.”

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Tedros mentioned a list of what he called “best buys,” policy changes that cost little but produce huge rewards.

Tedros urged countries to increase tobacco taxes, restrict advertising for alcohol, and lower the amount of salt, sugar and fat in food products. Doing this will lower the risks for diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke. He advised countries to vaccinate girls against cervical cancer.

Also Read: Alcohol Kills More People Than AIDS, Violence Combined: WHO

Tedros also recommended that countries provide universal health coverage as the best way to prevent and treat non-communicable diseases.

He said if these policies were implemented globally, they would save 10 million lives by 2025 and prevent 17 million strokes and heart attacks by 2030. And, again, focusing on economic benefits, Tedros said implementing “best buys” would generate $350 billion in economic growth in the poorest countries between now and 2030. (VOA)