Youth Provides Insight During International Health Meeting in Panama

Children International youth leader represents peers in signing Declaration of Panama at the event
Oct 29, 2013 8:00 AM ET
Campaign: Youth Leadership

Kansas City, MO, Oct. 29, 2013 /3BL Media/ -  During A Promise Renewed for the Americas, a collaborative gathering of organizations including USAID and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), 18-year-old Nelson Hernandez Jimenez signed the Declaration of Panama on behalf of Children International. The declaration will serve as an important document driving international health policy in Latin America and is a renewal of the commitment to work to “reduce inequities in reproductive, maternal, adolescent, neonatal and child health outcomes in the region.” Jimenez, one of a select group of youth invited to attend the conference, grew up in an impoverished area of Cartagena, Colombia. He was chosen to participate based on his dedication, leadership and communication skills honed in Children International’s Youth Health Corps, a program designed to prepare youth to educate other youth in their communities about important issues including reproductive health.

Jimenez was enrolled in Children International’s program at the age of 6 and is currently studying administration at a university, made possible through Children International’s HOPE Scholarship program. Although this was his first international experience and his first time on an airplane, he networked comfortably with other participants including representatives from Ministries of Health and organizing institutions such as PAHO and USAID. A primary theme of the conference was reaching adolescents in vulnerable communities, and Jimenez served as a voice of the very population the participants gathered to benefit.

The regional meeting was a follow-up to the Child Survival Call to Action held in Washington, D.C., in June. That gathering, which included more than 80 governments and organizations from around the world, was convened to re-energize the sustained global effort to save children’s lives. Partner organizations in this joint effort to reduce inequities in reproductive, maternal, and child health include: The Inter-American Development Bank, the Salud Mesoamerica 2015 Initiative, The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children’s Fund Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNICEF/TACRO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank, and country representatives from PAHO, UNICEF and UNFPA. 

Jimenez, who plans to start a construction company to provide housing for underprivileged families, says that he participates in Children International’s Youth Health Corps because of his interest in “the problems of our society, which we can . . . solve and change.” His participation in the PAHO conference enabled Jimenez to do just that. Jim Cook, Children International’s president, explains, “The conference’s focus on reducing the disparity and inequities among disadvantaged and marginalized populations is important, and I am pleased that Children International’s youth programs helped prepare Nelson to provide insight in this context. Nelson has seen in his own community health issues that are essential to address, and he has the drive and ambition to further his education to make a difference in his community. ”

For information about Children International’s youth programs, read the 2013 Youth Report.

Children International prepares children and youth to escape the traps of poverty by supporting their critical needs, building resilience, and engaging them in transformative activities. Children International accomplishes this by providing crucial benefits and compassionate care through easily accessible, modern community centers. Children International’s presence, programs and supporters have a positive impact on children, youth, families and communities; provide protection; encourage self-sufficiency; and serve as catalysts for change.

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Christy Howard

Public Relations

Children International

Direct: (816) 943-3730