The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned of an “immediate threat” to children’s welfare worldwide, ranking Nigeria among the bottom six countries in measurements of children’s survival, health, education and nutrition.
In its latest report released on Wednesday and commissioned by the World Health Organization, UNICEF said over 40 of the world’s pre-eminent child and adolescent health experts say not one country on Earth is adequately protecting the next generation from the impacts of carbon emissions, the destruction of nature and high-calorie and processed foods.
They said that excessive carbon emissions, produced overwhelmingly by wealthier nations, “threaten the future of all children” and will burden them with additional health dangers, from deadly heatwaves to the increased spread of tropical diseases.
“The big message is that no single country is protecting children’s health today and for their future,” said Anthony Costello, professor of International Child Health and Director of the Institute for Global Health at University College London.
“We have the solutions, what we don’t have is the political leadership and will to make it happen.”
The report, which is titled ‘A Future for the World’s Children’ includes a new global index of 180 countries, comparing performance on child flourishing.
According to the report, while the poorest countries need to do more to support their children’s ability to live healthy lives, excessive carbon emissions – disproportionately from wealthier countries – threaten the future of all children.
It said if global warming exceeds 4°C by the year 2100 in line with current projections, this would lead to devastating health consequences for children, due to rising ocean levels, heatwaves, the proliferation of diseases like malaria and dengue, and malnutrition.
Overall, the report found that the top 10 rankings on the child flourishing index were the countries of Norway, ranked first overall, South Korea, Netherlands, France, Ireland, Denmark, Japan, Belgium, Iceland, United Kingdom
The United States ranked as number 39.
The bottom 10 on the child flourishing index, according to the report were: The Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger, Mali, Guinea, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.