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Competition rewards environmental projects that save children’s lives


11 Mar 2010


Health & Consumers

Parma, Italy 11 March 2010 – Eight winning projects have received Children's Environment and Health Plan for Europe (CEHAPE) Awards at the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the WHO European Region on Environment and Health today. (1) 

Each project represents "good practice" in improving the environment for children's health(2), according to the leading international non-governmental organisations responsible for managing the competition. They are Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), EcoForum, and International Society of Doctors for the Environment Austria. 

"Children's health in Europe is under threat," says Genon Jensen, Executive Director, Health and Environment Alliance. "Rates of some serious health conditions, such as cancer, are increasing year by year and the traditional killers - respiratory and diarrhoeal disease - are likely to be exacerbated by climate change.(3) Endocrine disrupting chemicals - known as EDCs - are identified as a key environment and health challenge(4) and as an area where priority needs to be given to identifying safer alternatives(5)." 

"Each winner in the CEHAPE Awards has shown how children's health can be protected through low-cost, low technology interventions that involve local people. We would like to see these projects copied as widely as possible in communities in the European Union and across the WHO Europe region." Sascha Gabizon, Executive Director, Women in Europe for a Common Future says: “Many of the countries in the European region invest little money in measures to improve children’s health, which is difficult to understand, given that children are our future. Damage to health during childhood can have life-long negative effects." 

"The CEHAPE awards show how local initiatives can be key to improving children’s health, in particular in schools and kindergartens. In 2010, each child should have access to safe water and sanitation - Why is it that 13,000 children are still dying of water borne diseases in our region?"(6) asks Ms Gabizon. 

Other major problems for children's health are indoor air quality, exposure to harmful chemicals and a lack of opportunity for physical activity.(7) "Each child should be able to attend a school where he or she is not exposed to asbestos dust or other indoor air contaminants. Unfortunately, half the countries represented here in Parma continue to build their schools using asbestos. Each child should also be protected from harmful chemicals, in their toys, clothes and living environments and be able to benefit from safe physical activity and from green, natural areas. There is still a long way to go, but the CEHAPE awards show that support for local initiatives really pays off," Sascha Gabizon says. 

The overall winner in each category of the CEHAPE Awards will receive a cheque for 1,000 Euros. The eight award categories are based on the four priority goals of CEHAPE (Water and sanitation; Accident prevention and physical activity; Air quality; and Hazardous chemicals and radiation); two key challenges for children's health and the environment: mobility and climate change, and two inspirational settings: youth participation and schools. (2)

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