Wednesday, Nov. 20, National Child Day, will be a day for celebrating, appreciating, listening to and learning from our children — the future leaders of Canada. We have come a long way from the Victorian attitude that children “should be seen and not heard.”
UNICEF’s catch phrase for the day is ‘No child too far’. With globalization, world travel and tourism it is indeed true that no child is too far away for us not to be concerned about him or her and to empathize with the parents who see their child suffer and perhaps die.
Canada has been a world leader in supporting the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunization (GAVI). GAVI’s programs and other interventions have resulted in a significant reduction in children dying from disease from 12 million per annum (about 33,000 every day) in 1990 to 6.6 million (about 1,880 every day) in 2012. This is a significant improvement but still the numbers are so large it is difficult to appreciate that each death is a tragedy for the family.
Infectious diseases are still a threat to our children and ourselves here at home. So it is our own self-interest to support vaccination programs. More importantly we have a moral obligation to help just because we are all members of the human race.
We can be proud Canada has pledged $65 million for GAVI between 2011 and 2015 and has surpassed its pledge by another $20 million for measles vaccination. But still there is much to do. We must continue to support and expand our programs to help the children in the developing world.