Every child has right to health, says UN human rights chief

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A child is examined by a doctor in South Darfur (UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran)

It is unacceptable that close to seven million children around the world die each year before the age of 5.

That's what United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the Human Rights Council in Geneva as it opened its annual meeting on the rights of the child.

Ms. Pillay said the right to health is a universal human right recognized in international instruments including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Convention stipulates that States must take measures to diminish infant and child mortality and to abolish all practices which are harmful to the child.

"Six point nine million children around the world die each year before they turn five, over two thirds of them due to diseases that can be prevented and treated. Viewed in aggregate, these figures mask important differences. The risk of a child dying before his or her fifth birthday in low-income countries is 18 times higher than in high-income countries. Moreover, every hour 300 children die because of malnutrition." (33")

Ms. Pillay said that certain groups of children are disproportionately vulnerable.

They include children with disabilities, migrant children, children in institutions or without parental support and child victims of violence and sexual exploitation.

Gerry Adams, United Nations.

Duration: 1'28"

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