Saturday, November 15, 2008

UNICEF Petition for Child Survival

UNICEF is currently sponsoring an urgent petition to President-Elect Barack Obama requesting that child survival around the world be made a top priority of his administration. With approximately 9.2 million children and babies under five dying unnecessarily around the globe each year (that's 25,000 children per day), this initiative is clearly an investment in our global future and should be taken seriously by governments and NGOs the world over.

On UNICEF's website, they state the case clearly:

"At UNICEF, we believe in children. We believe deeply that every child—regardless of race, gender, religion, nationality or economic status—is equally deserving of a future. We believe that every child, not a percentage of children, should be afforded basic lifesaving vaccines, clean water, nutrition, protection from violence and a chance to survive to adulthood."

And they earnestly continue their message:

"UNICEF believes it is possible to reach zero—zero child lives lost to preventable causes like pneumonia, diarrhea, malnutrition and infection; zero children disabled by unnecessary illness; zero mothers dying as they give birth for lack of health care.

"An impossible dream? No, an achievable goal—with enough will and enough resources. UNICEF has proven that we know how to stop this from happening, with integrated, cost-effective solutions.

"What’s missing? Leadership. Everyone has a part to play: individuals, corporations, civic groups, church organizations—and, yes, government. We need the United States to provide leadership on child survival. That means both Congress and the President."

At this time of global economic meltdown, it is widely recognized that humanitarian aid and related initiatives might be seen as somehow superfluous based on current financial realities. but despite---or perhaps even due to---the economic crisis that is gripping the world, the continued fight to eliminate poverty, hunger and early child mortality is in fact more important than ever.

As developing countries strive to come to grips with the worldwide economic downturn, increased assistance from the world's industrialized nations is paramount. And in terms of global security, keeping the world's citizens fed, housed, safe from violence, and protected from unnecessary illness and death is in fact in our best interest, singularly and collectively.

Appealing to potential donors on a crudely economic basis, I would say that children are especially crucial to the future of the world's economic well-being. As future parents, workers, doctors, lawyers, humanitarians, farmers, etc., they are key to developing a healthy and robust workforce as their generation comes of age. Economically speaking, investing in children's lives is an investment that will pay countless dividends for generations to come.

However, beyond their economic status as future workers and consumers, humanity as a whole has a vested moral and ethical interest in assuring that no child dies unnecessarily from an otherwise preventable cause. This means that children in Iraq, Japan, the United States, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Brazil, the Phillipines, Pakistan, or any other country, all deserve the chance to grow, to learn, and to fulfill their potential as human beings and have the opportunity to contribute to the world's development and humanity's evolution. This notion is incontrovertible, and the moral imperative of saving children's lives simply cannot be debated.

I believe that one of the best roads to international security, future global prosperity, and humanity's greatest potential is through realizing the value of children's lives and investing in programs and initiatives to assure that those lives are not cut short by the lack of healthcare, food, shelter, education, and the economic means of survival. 25,000 preventable deaths per day is no laughing matter, and UNICEF's call for a "laser-focused" initiative by the new American president is a good start to what could be a moving and potentially wildly successful undertaking.

Please visit the UNICEF site today and sign the petition calling for a Presidential Initiative to Accelerate Child Survival. 25,000 children will die unnecessarily today. Let's make sure that, within our lifetime, we will bring that morally unacceptable number to zero.
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