Doctors Urge Prime Minister and Premiers to Take Action on Child and Youth Health

    OTTAWA, Oct. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA),
the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) and The College of Family Physicians of
Canada (CFPC) today challenged governments and their leaders to make child and
youth health a priority by formally adopting the objectives of Canada's new
Child and Youth Health Charter.
    The three organizations delivered the Charter to government leaders,
along with a letter urging them to take action on a situation they say is
growing increasingly alarming.
    "Why is it that UNICEF recently ranked Canada 12th among OECD countries
in terms of child well being?" said Dr. Ruth Collins-Nakai, Chair of the Child
and Youth Health Initiative. "International research tells us that illness,
injury, malnourishment and a variety of other issues are undermining the
development of our greatest resource - our children."
    The Charter provides a framework for improvement. It focuses on three key
requirements for child health: a safe and secure environment, good health and
development and access to a full range of health resources. Under these broad
categories, 16 specific areas of action are identified, ranging from clean
water, air and soil, to prenatal and maternal care and mental health programs
for children and youth.
    "This charter must be a standard against which we judge ourselves-as a
nation and as communities, in our work and in our daily lives," said
Dr. Gary Pekeles, President of the Canadian Paediatric Society. "We need to
ask, is what we are doing enhancing the health and well-being of children,
youth and families in Canada?"
    The CMA, CPS and CFPC are urging every organization with an interest in
child and youth health to formally endorse the charter and to increase their
efforts to help achieve its objectives.
    "We urge all organizations and consumer groups to join in endorsing this
charter", said Dr Louise Nasmith, immediate past President of the College of
Family Physicians of Canada. "We must unite in making children and youth
health our collective priority, in learning more about what affects their
health, and in making a plan to ensure that Canada's children and youth are
among the healthiest in the world" .
    The Charter was developed through broad consultation with organizations
and individuals concerned with child and youth health as well as parents,
youth and children. In April, the CMA, CPS and CFPC brought together leaders
from across the country to take part in the country's first Child Health
Summit, where the draft charter was unveiled and discussed. Further
development occurred in the months that followed, and the document has now
been finalized. It reflects a consensus on child and youth health priorities
and is intended to serve as a rallying point for collaborative action that
will benefit Canada's youngest citizens.
    "We believe all Canadian children and youth must have access to a safe
and secure environment; good health and development, and a full range of
health resources," said the three organizations in their letter to the Prime
Minister. "We urge your government to adopt the Charter and deliver on its
vision that Canada's children and youth will be among the healthiest in the
    The Charter can be found at


    October 15, 2007

    Mr. Prime Minister:

    We are sure you would agree that one of our society's main priorities
    must be to provide the conditions in which Canadian children and youth
    can grow up healthy. Unfortunately, in many important areas and
    determinants of child health, Canada is falling behind.

    We know that:

    - Canada ranks 18th of 26 nations ranked for death rates due
      unintentional injuries among children and youth
    - 26% of Canadian children and adolescents are either obese or overweight
    - About 15% of Canadian children and youth are living with some form of
      mental illness
    - Aboriginal children face disproportionate and multi dimensional health
      risks compared to the general population in such areas as infant
      mortality, injuries, diabetes and obesity
    - Canada is one of the only industrialized country without health goals
      or targets for children

    Child and youth health in Canada is at a critical juncture. Poor health
    in the early years can place children on a damaging trajectory for the
    rest of their lives. Therefore it is vital that Canada focus it efforts
    on the significant health challenges faced by Canadian children and

    On behalf of the membership of our three organizations, which represent
    over 65,000 physicians and health professionals across the country, we
    are pleased to present you with Canada's Child & Youth Health Charter.
    This Charter represents the collective consensus of a broad spectrum of
    organizations and associations who came together recently with the
    objective of identifying the goals and actions required to improve child
    and youth health in Canada.

    To reach their full potential, children need to grow up in a place where
    they can thrive - spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically and
    intellectually - and have access to high-quality health care when they
    need it. The Child & Youth Health Charter is a significant achievement
    because it provides governments with a clear vision and goals for
    improving child and youth health in Canada.

    We believe all Canadian children and youth must have access to a safe and
    secure environment; good health and development, and a full range of
    health resources. We urge your government to adopt the Charter and
    deliver on its vision that Canada's children and youth will be among the
    healthiest in the world.


    Canadian Medical Association
    Canadian Paediatric Society
    College of Family Physicians

    Cc: All Provincial Premiers & Territorial Leaders
        All Provincial & Territorial Health Ministers

For further information:

For further information: Lucie Boileau, CMA, 1-800-663-7336 x1266, (613)
731-8610 x1266; Olivia Craft, CPS, (613) 526-9397, ext 234, (613) 850-4868;
Jayne Johnson, CFPC, (204) 957-4370

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