Despite several initiatives to improve children’s health and reduce preventable mortality, including, among others, those undertaken to implement the Millennium Development Goals, the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Secretary General’s Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health, several challenges remain. As noted in the Human Rights Council’s resolution 19/37, more than 7.6 million children under the age of 5 die each year, mostly from preventable and treatable causes.
The right to health is central to the achievement of sustainable development and the realization of all other human rights. This submission focuses on sexual and reproductive health, which are confirmed to be “integral elements of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” and yet, often marginalized; for instance, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) added target 5B on ‘universal access to reproductive health’ as late as 2006, and this target is among the ones least likely to be met by 2015.
Today, there are 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10‐24 who should be guaranteed access to the comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and sexuality education that they need for a healthy and fulfilling life. Regrettably, this is not the case.
Many practices and norms that discriminate against women and other groups of people that have historically suffered discrimination and persecution are justified by reference to tradition, such as so-called honour killings, dowry-related violence and homophobic violence. Several States have taken actions to dismantle such traditional values, norms and practices, such as laws and programmes to end domestic violence and female genital mutilation, decriminalization of consensual sexual activity and media campaigns to counter homophobia.