Why and how we will protect children

The Campaign is carried out by the Cyprus National Committee on Environment and Children’s Health in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and the Press and Information Office and under the auspices of the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Popi Kanari, who declared its official launch.

In her speech, Minister of Health Dr. Popi Kanari said that the Environment in the European Region of the World Health Organization (WHO) is responsible for 80% of the effects of morbidity and 20% of deaths (2023), it is linked to 40-60% of cancer cases, while polluted air accounts for 26% of premature deaths of children 0-5 years old. She highlighted that in order to confront those challenges it is required that a holistic/interdisciplinary approach be implemented and in particular, strategies and policies based on prevention and shifting the burden from one-sided treatment of the disease to multifaceted Health promoting. She also highlighted the important role of the National Committee on Environment and Children’s Health, which aims to timely address emerging environmental risks and to protect the fetus and the child, as well as to promote its work at an international level. She referred to the 3 objectives of the Campaign: a) the Protection from tobacco smoke/vapor and new tobacco products that are wrongly considered to be safe, b) the safe use of digital technology and the prevention of addiction, highlighting that the right balance between rationally using technology and safeguarding the psychological, mental and physical development of the child must be found. Because our children need to successfully move into the new digital age by taking advantage of its multiple benefits. Regarding the 3rd objective of the campaign, which is to limit the impact on children’s health as a result of the deterioration of air quality due to the climate crisis, she commented on the seriousness of the problem of the climate crisis that is developing into a health crisis of unprecedented dimensions.

She closed, highlighting that “For the Government, the effective protection and prevention of the impact of the environment on children’s health is a priority. The Ministry of Health and I, personally, as we recognize the role and importance of the Committee, will continue to provide practical support to its actions. At the same time, we will continue to use the expertise of the Committee’s members in targeting and shaping relevant policies and actions based on the Scientific Documentation and Precautionary Principle duo, thus contributing to the Prevention and Protection of children’s health. We want to take another step forward and we will succeed this by institutionalizing the Committee, so as to strengthen its advisory role and guarantee its future and independence, while paving the way for ensuring grants from European funds for targeted research and interventions.

The president of the National Committee on Environment and Children’s Health Dr Stella Canna Michaelidou highlighted the long-term goal of the Committee, which, for 19 years, has been to minimize environmentally caused  child diseases through reducing exposure to toxic agents and established and seriously documented emerging risks. “We want to inform, raise awareness and empower parents, teachers and children themselves to apply precautionary practices. At the same time, we want to contribute to the framing of Public Health legislation and policies for children based on Science and the Precautionary (COM 2000) and Prevention Principles.She highlighted that child protection in the developed world is still inadequate and this is evident from the raising trends in childhood diseases and disabilities experienced across Europe and USA. Data from reliable studies and the Center of Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrate an increasing trend in the “pandemic” of destruction of children’s brain function: millions of children, 1 in 6 in Europe and the USA experience learning disabilities, attention deficit syndrom, behavioral problems, ADHD, autism and declining IQ, while data from the CDC in 2018 and the World Health Organization in 2017 show a steadily increasing trend in certain forms of childhood cancer, especially in the nervous system and in leukemia. As the chemical industry and technology flourish, there is a lag in the assessment of risks and, in particular, of long-term effects, and an even greater lag in the legislation for exposure/use limits, especially for children.

Referring to the three objectives of the Campaign, she mentioned the following:

OBJECTIVE 1: Protection from tobacco smoke/vapor and new tobacco products. New tobacco products, both electronic cigarettes and shisha, according to the WHO and the CDC, ARE NOT SAFE neither for the users nor for those around them, especially children. Smoke and vapor contain toxic substances including carcinogens and nicotine resulting into serious air pollution.

OBJECTIVE 2: Safe use of digital technology, protection from radiation and avoiding addiction. In the digital age, a real challenge for the international scientific community is how to safely utilize a galloping technology with significant benefits, but also with well documented risks for the mental and physical health and development of children, if not used properly. The adverse effects of misuse and unsafe use are a) addiction to video games and online gambling, b) internet and electronic devices dependence, c) the impact of the use of tablets and computer games by infants and young children on their mental and physical development are very serious and are related to the likelihood of incomplete development, particularly of the ability of self-control, communication, self-regulation and empathy and of the ability of peer problem-solving, as well as to the difficulty in developing skills in mathematics and science. According to an explicit recommendation of the American Pediatric Society Before 2 years of age, we avoid screens and digital games, especially the use of electronic devices without the presence and participation of an adult.” The Committee, primarily based on the recommendations of the American Pediatric Society, has created a guide for safe use of technology for children and adolescents.

  1. d) the effects of non-ionizing radiation from the wireless technology on health are serious and require prevention and exposure Risks to a significant degree documented are: potential carcinogenicity classified as potential carcinogen class 2B (WHO/IARC 2011), neurotoxicity (level of documentation (LoD) 72%), the genetic effects (LoD 68%), oxidative stress (LoD 91%). Children compared to adults are more vulnerable and absorb much higher doses of radiation: Absorption goes up to 2x in the brain tissues and up to 10x in the bone marrow (Ref WHO/IARC 2011, 102), 5x in the eyes and 30x in the hippocampus, a very important organ for mental development. To reduce radiation exposure, it is recommended that good practices and the use of wired internet at home and school are applied.

The four potential adverse effects of misuse and unsafe use mentioned above can only be addressed by raising awareness of the risks among parents, teachers and children, training in active/passive exposure reduction practices (e.g. wired internet at home and school) and promoting rational use within defined limits depending on the age of children as recommended by global organizations, the Council of Europe, the American Pediatric Society etc. At the same time, children need to be empowered and learn self-protection and how to control and make use of technology, not depend on it. Two related films were screened:

The Committee has a wealth of material and a special guide on safe (wired) internet connection on its website |

OBJECTIVE 3: To limit the impact of the deterioration of air quality due to the climate crisis on children’s health. The climate crisis threatens children’s health, starting while they are still in their mother’s womb. The damage caused in early childhood is persistent and pervasive, with health consequences that last for a lifetime. Without immediate action for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the climate crisis will define the health status of an entire generation. Reference was made to the dust storms and the important work of the MEDEA program, with the active participation of the University of Cyprus, for the development of practical interventions for children’s protection, which will be used in the campaign.

The main actions of the campaign are:

       Action 1. Informing pregnant women how to protect the fetus and the child
Distribution of informative material via the Center for Preventive PaediatricsAmerikos Argyriou”, the Paediatric Society of Cyprus and the Cyprus Society of  Perinatal Medicine, all over Cyprus.
Lectures in hospitals.

     Action 2. InformingTraining parents on Good Practices

  • Within the context of the annual Seminar of the Committee, one day will be devoted to parents and teachers
  • Lectures for new parents at Makarios III Hospital, Famagusta and Larnaca Hospitals with a view to extending them in other hospitals, as well.

   Action 3. Preschool teachers training to educate teachers and via them small kids, aiming to empower them to protect themselves and demand their right to health. This will be done in cooperation with the Cyprus Pedagogical Institute, the Cyprus Employers and Industrialists Federation and the Association of Private Preschool Education of Cyprus.

   Action 4. Creation of Material and Promotion: Creation of videos, Practical Guides and a series of podcasts called “CHILDREN’S SHIELD”, promotion through media, social media, website and newsletter |

At the end, the cooperation of all stakeholders was requested for the development and dissemination of information, for raising awareness and contributing to empowerment actions because

Children have an Inalienable Right to Health and we have an Obligation to Safeguard it!

Verified by MonsterInsights