Child poverty in rich countries is very disturbing as children in developed countries live in unacceptable poverty that denies them the opportunities to develop properly and become economically independent citizens in the future. The poverty rates are higher in some rich countries than in others and the disparity is attributed to the actions taken by individual countries to combat child poverty. Reversing the trends in child poverty is important as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) report of 2005 shows out seventeen out of twenty-four countries of the members of OCED have rising child poverty rates according to the available data. Child poverty denies children their rights as stipulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child. Thus, child poverty reduction is imperative is vital in measuring a developed countries progress inequality, and social cohesion as children are tomorrow’s world.
Child poverty is lowest in Finland and Denmark at less than three percent and highest in Mexico and United States at more than twenty percent than the other rich countries. The Nordic countries have made significant progress in child poverty reduction as four of them have a child poverty rate below five percent. Countries in the middle have a rate of between five and fifteen percent. Mexico, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Japan are non-Europeans countries with high child poverty rates. It is also important to note that countries with smaller populations have low child poverty rates as opposed to those with high populations. The countries with small populations have the advantage of having manageable economies cohesiveness and solidarity and poverty is likely less tolerated in such countries (UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, 2006). However, some organizations have been formed to cater to the needs of children living in poverty as shown in the following paragraph.
Children are very important in society as they mark human progress. To safeguard the welfare and health of the children United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) was formed in 1946. The organization is at the forefront of safeguarding children all over the world in a bid to give them a decent childhood. UNICEF was started to cater to children in emergencies but extended its mandate to cater to all children even in non-emergencies. The purpose of the organization is to remove the obstacles in a child’s life such as poverty, disease, discrimination, and violence (Jacobs, 1950).
UNICEF has several programs that cater to the children’s welfare such as advocating for universal education of all children, breastfeeding awareness campaigns. UNICEF works to maintain a protective environment for children against violence. Many children are victims of violence across the globe. The violence, abuse, and exploitation of children take many forms such as child labor, child marriage, and female genital mutilation among others. The organization acts as the voice of the children issues through the publication of that state of the children annually. Highlighting the state of the children and the problems they face is important in ensuring that steps are taken to ensure survival and proper growth and development of the children (UNICEF, 2009).
Children living in poverty lack basic things such as food, water shelter, and medicine. Many children die from malnutrition, conflict, HIV/AIDs, and preventable diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia. Moreover, due to poverty children lack access to clean safe water. They also lack proper sanitation and many dies. UNICEF estimates that over six million children die yearly due to preventable factors. To combat the needless deaths of children UNICEF has invented interventions such as vaccinations, micronutrient supplements, provision of treated bed nets, and antibiotics among others (UNICEF, 2009).
The report about the large numbers of children dying from preventable causes is worrying considering that children are the future. Many children lack access to healthcare due to poverty as their parents or guardians have to choose between buying food or taking the children to a healthcare facility when they are seeking. Most will go for food hence the health of the children is neglected. Once children lack proper healthcare they cannot grow to be healthy adults who can be productive in their countries. Children need proper healthcare so that they can survive and grow to be healthy children who can have an equal opportunity to attend school and acquire skills to help them survive economically in their adult lives. Sick children cannot do well in school as they keep skipping school hence they cannot achieve academically (UNICEF, 2009).
Finally, concerted efforts are required to ensure that children get proper healthcare while still young so that they can grow and develop properly. If children get access to healthcare, they will have a chance to grow into adults and ensure the continuation of the human race and society. The government should put in place a policy that ensures that all children have access to healthcare. The government policy should recognize children as important hence protecting them from obstacles that hinder their growth and survival at a tender age. Furthermore, the laws of a country should protect children against all forms of abuse and they should have safe havens once they become victims of violence. Parents should also be encouraged to be responsible for their children and take care of them by working hard to ensure that they provide for the needs of their children. There should be measures of interventions for parents who neglect or are incapable of taking care of the health of their children (Elliston, 2007). The government can also support lone parents, as their children are more likely to face child poverty than children from two-parent families are. Children are vulnerable and must be protected to ensure that they survive because without children there is no tomorrow.
Elliston, S. (2007). The best interests of the children in healthcare. New York: Routledge.
Jacobs, S.K. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund: An instrument of international social policy. Part 1. The Social Service review, 24 (2), 143-172.
UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (2006). Child poverty in rich countries, 2005. International Journal Of Health Services: Planning, Administration, Evaluation, 36 (2), 235-69.
UNICEF. (2009). Health. Web.