Child Health Day

Years ago, I worked for a Christian organization that helped resettle refugees across the United States. One of the organization’s leaders had grown up in Africa, the son of missionaries. I remember him sharing a story about a dear childhood friend who had died of measles.

That was the first time I’d ever heard of a child dying of what to me was a fairly harmless and common childhood disease. Since then, I’ve learned from other people who’ve lived on the continent that they too knew of children who’d died of measles.

Child Health Day

My two children were born here, and I am so grateful that for most of their lives we’ve had access to excellent healthcare. It’s sobering to think that for many families around the world, reliable, affordable, adequate healthcare isn’t a reality.

Today is Child Health Day, and on Friday, Sept. 29, President Obama released a proclamation that included a charge to America’s families, educators, health professionals, and others to help ensure the health of the country’s children.

Here is an excerpt.

President Obama on Child Health Day

Today’s youth will shape our Nation’s narrative and drive our progress, and it is our duty to ensure our young people are given every opportunity to live full, healthy lives. Securing a bright future for America’s daughters and sons requires us to continue expanding access to quality health care and working to foster cleaner, safer, and more supportive environments. On Child Health Day, we renew our strong commitment to protecting and empowering our children by giving them the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to grow into healthy and productive adults.

My Administration has made children’s health a top priority throughout the past 8 years. Through First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, we have worked to bring parents, schools, and communities together to reduce childhood obesity by increasing access to affordable and nutritious food, and by encouraging physical activity early on in life. Parents and guardians serve as role models when it comes to forming healthy habits, and they can help their children learn to make smart choices that will shape their lifestyles for years to come.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, no child can be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition, and millions of young people are able to remain on a parent’s insurance plan until age 26. Cancer touches the lives of millions of Americans, and pediatric cancer remains the leading cause of death by disease among children.