12 December 2007

Global warming will hurt kids

UNICEF reports that children will suffer the brunt of natural disasters, disease and malnutrition in poor countries, and rising temperatures may make the plight of the young worse.

Children often suffer the brunt of natural disasters, disease and malnutrition in poor countries, and rising temperatures are predicted which will only make the plight of the young worse, UNICEF warned in a report.

Climate change is expected to exacerbate three of the biggest health issues that kill children worldwide: malaria, diarrhoea and malnutrition.

Asthma, one of the most common childhood diseases linked to the environment, also is expected to increase 20 percent by 2016 if action is not taken.

Children "are going to be the most susceptible," Vanessa Tobin, deputy director of programming at UNICEF in New York, said.

"Ensuring that the factors are in place to protect children is extremely important."

Climate change a hot topic
Delegates from nearly 190 nations attending the UN climate conference in Bali, Indonesia are seeking ways to head off scientific predictions of melting ice caps, rising sea levels, severe flooding and droughts, and spikes in waterborne diseases.

Already, an estimated 36 percent of children's deaths are linked to the environment, compared to 23 percent overall, Tobin said.

Children often are more vulnerable to natural disasters, such as flooding. They face malnutrition from drought and diarrhoea from a lack of clean drinking water, the report said.

UNICEF estimates the number of child deaths worldwide has fallen to 9.7 million annually from 13 million in 1990, but warns that the progress could be reversed if more attention is not given to health and sanitation issues affected by global warming. – (Sapa)

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