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    Drastic action is needed to ensure a better future for South Africa’s children

    Article published in the Conversation Africa, 3 March 2020

    Authors: Mark Tomlinson, Asha George, Tanya Doherty

    Image: Shutterstock


    Remarkable progress has been made in the health and well-being of children and young people since 1990. But profound inequality means that little has changed for many in the world’s poorest regions. Children around the world also face unprecedented dangers from climate disruption and unregulated commercial actors.


    These are the findings of a report recently published by a WHO-UNICEF-Lancet commission on redefining and accelerating progress on child health and well-being. The commission is made up of child health, climate change and health systems researchers and advisors from universities, nongovernmental organisations, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation.


    The commission developed a new “flourishing index” which assessed children’s health, education, growth and experiences of violence. It also created a sustainability index which ranked countries based on their excess greenhouse gas emissions. Strikingly, no country did well on sustainability, flourishing and the absence of inequity. All three are essential for securing the future of children and young people.

    The commission reported on the performance of 180 countries and gave them a ranking. As commissioners from South Africa, we have focused here on how South Africa performed.


    The country was in 127th position on the flourishing index, lower than countries with much fewer resources. For example, Vietnam is a lower middle-income country but is in 58th position on the flourishing index. On the sustainability index, South Africa ranked 150th and Vietnam 85th. This means that children face many more health, development and sustainability challenges in South Africa than in Vietnam, despite South Africa being more economically advanced than Vietnam.


    South Africa stood out as a unique example of a country that performed poorly across both the flourishing and sustainability indices.


    Read the full article in the Conversation Africa.