Nutrimento & nutriMENTE

Europe should do more to protect children

By Redazione

European Member States should do more to protect the 6,700 children who die every year from preventable accidents, a report from the European Child Safety Alliance recommends.

To mark the International Day of the Child 2007, the Alliance held a press conference in the European Parliament to publicise the findings of its research and spur EU and national stakeholders
into action.

The report created ‘child safety report cards’ which scored the performance of 18 European countries on their policy efforts to protect children from road traffic accidents, drowning, falls,
poisoning, burns and choking.

The countries which scored best were Sweden, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland, whilst Spain, Greece and Portugal did the least well.

At the European level, the report found that 6,700 child and adolescent deaths could be avoided each year if every Member State adopted, implemented and enforced evidence-based policies and
measures, such as child seats in cars and fencing for private swimming pools for example.

‘Our research has found that there are a number of policies and measures that already exist and are proven to be effective, but not all Member States have adopted them, implemented them and
enforced them. I think the infrastructure is there for that, the measures have been proven to work in many countries, so Member States just need to go ahead and implement them,’ Joanne
Vincenten, the Director of the European Child Safety Alliance, told CORDIS News.

According to the Socialist MEP Arlene McCarthy, the meeting’s host, the lack of action to protect children is due to failings on the part of both government and industry to put children first
and honour pledges to the rights of the child convention.

‘National governments need to make the investments in children and families with the safety measures that have been proven to reduce child deaths,’ she said. ‘Industry needs to be responsible
and show leadership to ensure products and services offered are safe and not put profits before safety.’

Ms Vincenten agreed, saying: ‘It took years to reach agreement on the adoption of child resistant cigarette lighters for example and we are still waiting for the car industry to adopt safer

The performance assessment also scores countries on their leadership, infrastructure and capacity in child safety. It found that countries where governments had given a clear mandate to one
national department to be responsible for coordinating child safety activities across sectors were more likely to be effective in reducing child injury.

The 30-month project, funded by the European Commission, will begin phase two in January 2008, extending its target research group to 12 more countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

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