Global child health partnership in ‘This is My Street’ call for action

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The Gurugram community came out in force to support the This is My Street Campaign.
The Gurugram community came out in force to support the This is My Street Campaign.
Children and families enjoy the car-free streets of Raahgiri day.
Children and families enjoy the car-free streets of Raahgiri day.

In a powerful call for action to reclaim the streets for young people, the Child Health Initiative was joined by over 5,000 people on the outskirts of Delhi and the global Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health. 

The CHI is joining major international agencies taking part in the Partners Forum for maternal, child and adolescent health which is being held in India’s capital and opened by Prime Minister Modi. 

To kick off the Forum on 9 December, a Raahgiri Day event was held in Gurgaon on the outskirts of Delhi for the CHI’s ‘This is My Street’ campaign and with the support of the PMNCH. This is My Street brings communities together globally to call for action on the main health burdens facing young people. 

The Raahgiri Day is a car free event where families and young people take to the streets to promote cycling, walking and physical activity. It was supported by the FIA Foundation and organised with CHI partner WRI India. 

The Partnership for Maternal Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), which is hosted by the WHO, is the multi-stakeholder platform for implementing the UN’s SDG strategy on health for children and adolescents and works with the Every Woman Every Child movement. 

Speaking at the Raahgiri Day, the PMNCH Executive Director, Helga Fogstad, joined the call for action to ensure a healthy environment, safe streets and clean air for young people globally. She said: “This is a powerful opportunity to engage with the local community here in Gurgaon. They are telling us their concerns and highlighting the health burdens they face. We need cross-sectoral action, coordination with agencies such as the Department of Transportation, Environment and others to ensure that children have a safe and healthy environment. I support ‘This is My Street’, we must give all young people the right to health.” 

FIA Foundation Deputy Director Avi Silverman joined the PMNCH, WRI India and government representatives in speaking at the event. He said: “We are here at the global Partners Forum to call for action on the biggest health burdens faced by children and young people. As we can see here on the streets, young people are facing combined health threats of air pollution, road traffic injury and an unsafe environment. These are growing issues for fast developing cities globally. Here today the local community is making it clear it has had enough and wants action for families, children and young people. We’re looking forward to developing further collaboration with the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health along with other international partners to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals truly deliver for young people.” 

Sarika Panda Head - Integrated Transport and Road Safety, WRI India said: “In our work here in India we are showing that progress can be made. We are collaborating with the State of Haryana and the Botnar Foundation to tackle child road traffic injury. We are also implementing a ‘Vision Zero’ road safety programme across the state which has already reduced road traffic injury rates by over 20%. We’re delighted to have joined the FIA Foundation and Child Health Initiative in this Raahgiri Day event with a strong message that we can and must make our streets safer. This is vital work to ensure that our agenda to save lives is also supported by the global child health community.” 

WRI India has initiated the Raahgiri Day concept to reclaim the streets, promote road safety and air quality. Raahgiri events have now spread to over 70 cities across India. The Gurgaon event supported by the FIA Foundation and with the PMNCH and CHI celebrated the fifth anniversary of Raahgiri Day. 

The CHI is taking its call for a UN Special Summit on Adolescent Health to the Partners Forum on 12 and 13 December. The Summit would aim to address the major health burdens upon young people, including road traffic injury and air pollution, encouraging governments and the international community to significantly increase their financial and political support for these issues.