The United Nations Children’s Fund has a long history of seeking to protect the children of the world. This year, UNICEF will be tackling the issues of mental health care is it applies to refugees of war, the ethics of pharmacological research, and the Out-of-School Children Initiative.
The United Nations Children’s Fund faces the unique issues of defining what constitutes a mental illness, identifying the safest and most effective treatment options, and finding a way to provide these services to as many refugees as possible all while considering the economic restrictions and cultural barriers. These decisions will require cooperation between countries to overcome the stigma often associated with receiving treatment for mental illness, to strengthen support systems for unaccompanied minors, and fight the social isolation, prejudice, and discrimination that contribute negatively to the mental health of children and adolescents.
The United Nations Children’s Fund will need to find ways to encourage pediatric and adolescent research by identifying major health issues around the world. Delegates will also have to consider the importance of respecting a child or adolescent’s autonomy and assent all while streamlining the informed consent and patient selection process. Making comprehensive, universal guidelines for and providing support to researchers will help limit the off label use of pharmacological treatments for children and adolescents and reduce the risks they face while seeking medical care.
With the Out-of-School Children Initiative, the delegates of UNICEF will identify the major, unique barriers to education and create appropriate solutions by considering past policy attempts to decide what legislation has worked and what has not. Finding the best ways to provide governments with up to date information about the major barriers so they can create effective, individualized solutions should be a major priority.