Aditi Sharma 7th September, 2020
Jacinda Arden, Prime Minister of New Zealand (Source: gettyimages)
The latest UNICEF Innocenti report card shows that out of 41 developed countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED) and European Union, New Zealand ranks 35th. The reports revealed the statistics of childhood obesity and youth suicide which were highly worrisome in New Zealand. Owing to this, the country was pushed to the bottom of the chart for child well-being.
According to the report card, New Zealand has the second most obesity rate in the OCED—more than 1 in 3 children are overweight. New Zealand’s youth suicide rate is also the second-worst in the developed world, at 14.9 deaths per 1,00,000 adolescents. This rate is more than twice the average among the 41 OECD countries surveyed (6.5 deaths per 1,00,000 adolescents). This report references the most recent and comparable data across 41 countries.
In the report by UNICEF, UNICEF New Zealand Executive Director Vivien Maidaborn said these poor grades showed New Zealand was failing its children.
“The Report Card gives New Zealand an F for failure when it comes to wellbeing outcomes for children,” she stated in the UNICEF report. “This is a woeful result for a country that prides itself on the great outdoors, academic achievement, and the international success of our sports teams. It is time to be alarmed and activated about the inequality of opportunity, health, and wellbeing in NZ”.
Maidaborn also stated in the same that the high rate in New Zealand's suicide statistics can be influenced by a constellation of other accountable factors like colonisation, the bias of teachers at school which excludes children, socio-economic background, poverty, cultural influences, and inequality, writes the UNICEF report.
According to Prime Minister Jacinda Arden as reported by The Guardian, the reports of UNICEF did not take into consideration the recent funding and progress, it reflected the previous government’s underinvestment and was dated before the recent funding was allocated to the areas.
Ardern added that the UNICEF report pre-dated both her government’s $550 crores (USD $370 crores) family package and its progress in lifting more than 18,000 children out of poverty.
UNICEF cautioned that New Zealand needs significant investment and coverage alternate to cope with deeply embedded and terrifying childhood round obesity, suicide, in addition to declining skill in studying and maths, only 64.6 per cent of 15-year olds in New Zealand have basic ability in reading and maths.
As per the report by The Guardian, Arden replied saying that as a government, it is essential for them to keep making progress and ensure that the children have a warm home, access to health benefits, safe and healthy food, and a chance to have a childhood with the freedom to learn and play.
Ardern’s government accepted the recommendations from the UNICEF report back to talk over with youngsters, guarantee an integrated approach to kid well-being, and a set up for the long run according to her.
(Sources: UNICEF, The Guardian)
Edited by Varun Vyas Hebbalalu