THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
CHILD HEALTH DAY, 1998
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
As caring parents and citizens, we must do all we can to ensure that our children, our Nation's greatest resource, lead safe and healthy lives. Today, thanks to scientific break-throughs and increased public awareness, we have the ability to prevent many of the childhood illnesses and disorders of the past. We have raised immunization rates to an all-time high, ensured that prescription drugs will be adequately tested for children, conducted research to help protect children from environmental health risks, and established protections so that mothers can stay in hospitals with their newborns until they and their doctors decide they are ready to leave. Although we can be heartened by these important achievements, we must do more if we are to overcome the many health challenges our children still face.
Recent studies show that children without health insurance are more likely to be sick as newborns, less likely to be immunized, and less likely to receive treatment for recurring illnesses. One of the great accomplishments of my Administration has been the creation of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which I called for in my 1997 State of the Union and signed into law just a year ago. CHIP provides $24 billion to help States offer affordable health insurance to children in eligible working families -- the single largest investment in children's health since the passage of Medicaid in 1965. CHIP will provide health care coverage, including prescription drugs, and vision, hearing, and mental health services, to as many as 5 million uninsured children; and in its first year, nearly four out of five States already are participating in CHIP. We are also working hard to identify and enroll in Medicaid the more than 4 million children who are currently eligible to receive health care through that program but are not enrolled. The challenge before us now is to realize the promise of CHIP and Medicaid by reaching out to families to inform them of their options for health care coverage.
Due to recent breakthroughs in medical knowledge, we know that the decisions we make even before our children are born can have a significant impact on their future health. That is why we are committed to fighting, among other afflictions, the tragic consequences of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. In this country, thousands of infants are born each year suffering from the physical and mental effects of this disorder. Because its effects are devastating, causing permanent damage, the simplest and best measure that expectant mothers can take for the safety of their babies is to abstain from drinking alcohol throughout their pregnancies.
As part of my Administration's ongoing efforts to protect our children from the effects of alcohol and other substance abuse, Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala recently announced a new campaign, "Your Time -- Their Future," to recruit adults to help children and adolescents develop healthy and useful skills and interests. Research shows that the guidance and example of caring adults can play an important part in helping young people resist the attraction of alcohol and other harmful or illegal substances.
To acknowledge the importance of our children's health, the Congress, by joint resolution approved May 18, 1928, as amended (36 U.S.C. 143), has called for the designation of the first Monday in October as "Child Health Day" and has requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this day.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Monday, October 5, 1998, as Child Health Day. I call upon families, schools, communities, and governments to dedicate themselves to protecting the health and well-being of all our children.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-third.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
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