by H.E. Dr. Daniela Bartos, the Minister of Health and Family

at the Ministerial Round Table "Healty Environments for Children"

The 56th World Health Assembly

World Health Organization

(Geneva, May 20, 2003)

Mr. Chairman,
Dear colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The slogan chosen by the World Health Organization "A Healthy Environment for Children" reflects one of the major public health concerns worldwide. Romania considered it a priority field and included it in the Community Programme of Public Health of the Ministry of Health and Family with the following specific objectives:

  • Monitoring physical development;
  • Assessment of environment conditions in educational facilities;
  • Follow-up of school children and students by periodical examinations and epidemiological screening;
  • Monitoring of health risk behaviours in school children and students.

The results of surveillance activities showed that:

  • the projects of school environment improvement must take into account the results of monitoring indicators with impact on the health status in educational and recreation facilities;
  • the main risk factors identified are: overcrowding, inadequate water supply, microclimate conditions, improper lighting and old furniture.

It is obvious that early identification of environmental risk factors such as pollution or risky behaviours such as an unhealthy diet, smoking, alcohol or drug consumption is crucial for children's health or well-being.

In 2002 about 10 percent of the educational facilities were assessed, of which about one third in urban and rural areas are located in buildings inappropriate for school facilities.

The water supply in schools in urban areas is mainly from the public supply, but in rural areas almost 10 per cent of the schools do not have their own water supply;

A relatively high percentage of schools, a quarter in the urban areas and almost half in rural areas, have furniture either deteriorated or inadequate in size for school children. The lack of gym facilities in many schools is another big issue to be solved.

The major problems briefly listed above are serious factors that have a negative impact on children's health status contributing to the increase in prevalence of various disorders, such as:

  • lowered general resistance;
  • deformities of the spine;
  • visual disorders.

Such conditions and disorders were found in a quarter of the half million school children and students examined.

The Ministry of Health and Family is not the only actor involved in improving educational environment conditions. An active partnership is currently in place between our ministry and the ministries of Education, Environment and the local authorities and civil society as well, to correct the above-mentioned situation.

Thank you for your attention.

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