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    Small islands, big human issues.

    Grant JP

    CHILDREN IN FOCUS. 1994 Apr-Jun; 6(2):1, 9.

    UNICEF, in its capacity as supporter of the Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing Countries, is particularly concerned about islands with acute poverty and underdevelopment and about islands with middle and high incomes. It is recommended that all the states ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child; establish national programs of action for child survival and welfare; support primary environmental care; and support (20% of total budget) nutrition, primary health care, basic education, safe water, and family planning. Most states contribute only about 10% of their national budgets to child welfare programs. 20% of international development assistance should also be devoted to nutrition, primary health care, basic education, safe water, and family planning. The global social agenda must be directed to women and children. Island characteristics include a preponderance of subsistence agriculture with fishing and cash cropping. Tourism provides for foreign exchange. There is heavy dependence on external aid and remittances. Urbanization is increasing, but the islands are isolated by distance and communication. Sanitation and inadequate water supplies pose serious problems. Diarrhea and malaria are major diseases of childhood. Malnutrition and undernutrition are increasing. The example of the Maldives has shown that political will can lead to gains in child survival and human development. Barbados is a good example of gains in social development, which could be deleteriously affected by economic and trade policies, environmental problems, or natural disasters. Small island countries are vulnerable because of insufficient reserves and the short-term nature of advances. Protective strategies may be adoption of sustainable models for health care, quality and relevant education, and provision of technical and social skills for young people. The issue is no longer just meeting basic needs but improving the quality of life and reducing in poverty.
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