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Access to Quality Health Care, Education Vital for Improving Children’s Well-Being, Speakers Stress as Third Committee Concludes Debate

Governments around the world were focused on improving access to quality education and health care for children and adolescents to ensure they reached their full potential, speakers told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) as they concluded discussion on children’s rights.

Indeed, children’s fundamental freedoms could be best protected by ensuring their education and health care needs were met, said Bangladesh’s delegate, who noted that children at all educational levels in his country were provided free textbooks on New Year’s Day, the world’s largest such distribution that had seen 360 million textbooks handed out this year.  The education system also had been enhanced by the introduction of information and communications technology in school curricula.

Similarly, Bhutan’s delegate said children were provided free education up to the tenth grade, while in Ukraine, a law on inclusive education ensured all Ukrainian children had access to high-quality education, said that country’s representative.

Efforts to boost education had borne fruit, several said, with South Africa’s delegate noting that 98 per cent of girls were enrolled in school.  Rwanda’s delegate said primary school enrolment had risen to 95.4 per cent, with girls’ 96.5 per cent rate higher than the 94.2 per cent rate for boys.  Overall, primary school completion in Rwanda was 76 per cent.  In Indonesia, said that country’s delegate, a Child Labour Reduction Program focused on education and vocational training had led to 49 children returning to school.

In terms of child health, there had also been gains.  El Salvador’s representative said a comprehensive child health care policy had fostered a 42 per cent decrease in chronic malnutrition and reduced parent-to-child transmission of HIV and AIDS.  In Thailand, meanwhile, particular attention had been paid to achieving universal health coverage, said that country’s delegate, with a grant introduced to help poor families with new-born children.  Libya’s representative likewise stressed that, despite instability, his country was determined to provide children with free education and healthcare services, including vaccinations.

Speakers also underscored that education and health care policies must be inclusive to meet children’s varying needs.  The Dominican Republic’s delegate highlighted the establishment of a centre for children with conditions such as autism and Down’s Syndrome.  “We know that investing in the rights of children means investing in our future,” he said.  Echoing this sentiment, Tonga’s delegate added that every child, including those with disabilities, had the right to education. 

Children also deserved access to social services regardless of their nationality, speakers noted.  The representative of the United Arab Emirates said immunizations were offered to Yemeni children who had been affected by conflict.  Spain’s delegate added that child migrants were accorded the same rights as Spanish citizens.

However, the Republic of Korea’s delegate pointed out, girls often lacked access to healthcare and education.  Adolescent girls left school much earlier than their male counterparts.  Girls also suffered disproportionate violence, and lacked access to health care and nutrition.  It was well documented that societies which empowered girls through education achieved better results in every area of development, she observed.

Also speaking were representatives of Botswana, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Iceland, Kazakhstan, China, Georgia, Kuwait, Turkey, Nigeria, Maldives, Pakistan,

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