II World Congress of the Finno-Ugric Peoples
Budapest (Hungary) August 17–19, 1996


Brief information








Section of Public Health, Demography, Ecology
and Protection of Children, Youth and Family

The Section treated the topics of demography, public health, ecology and protection of family and had about forty participants. Reports on demography, public health and social policy were delivered, above all, by experts and scientists from Hungary. A participant from Finland reported on related problems connected with the forthcoming population census in the Russian Federation in 1999. Reports on environment protection were presented by delegates from the Komi, Udmurt and Mari republics, as well as from Hungary and Estonia. The discussion covered a wide range of problems and was as many-sided as those topics. The participants made it quite clear that the questions of demography, family and economy are closely interconnected, which must be well understood to successfully manage these problems. In some Finno-Ugric territories, the problems of environment protection are difficult and complex to a degree of threatening the health of local people, particularly pregnant women and children, and thus posing a threat to survival of the indigenous population.

Therefore it is vital for the indigenous population to have an influence over the use of natural resources in their living space. A point was made during the discussion that for a family to exist and effectively pass the Finno-Ugric heritage to its younger generation, protection of family and a corresponding family policy are essential. The range of discussed problems also revealed that the shared heritage common to Finno-Ugric peoples it not limited to linguistic relationship only but, in the post-communist period, most Finno-Ugric peoples face the same problems.

The importance of co-operation was stressed by almost all speakers. It was noted that to co-ordinately study environmental, health, social and demographic problems there is a need for co-operation between scientists, institutes of higher education, public institutions and non-governmental organisations. Ministries responsible for these spheres must also co-operate in finding solutions by rendering information and data exchange and by establishing databanks. Those peoples who have had advanced structures to start with might now support others who are busily building them. These structures include statistical offices and research institutions in demography, ecology and economy, as well as agencies for protection of family, children and youth and for rendering public health service. In particular, the exchange of scientific information should be improved in the spheres of health service and demography. In the area of public health, it is not enough to operate with average figures; instead, the data must be provided on separate nationalities, indigenous populations and ethnic minorities. As an example it was pointed at the corresponding UN Economic Commission programme: this should be extended on Finno-Ugric peoples of the Russian Federation. Experts in Finland, Estonia and Hungary have already obtained their results under this programme.
To map the relationship between the state of health and the conditions of ecology in the Finno-Ugric areas where such studies have not yet been conducted, a programme of interviewing on public health must be started along with other programmes aimed to evaluate the present situation. If our efforts to attain appropriate life standards for youth are to ensure good physical and spiritual health of the new generation and to achieve that every youngster develops as a fully able person, data on the quality of habitation are also of importance.

The Section makes a suggestion to bring the methodology in agreement and to adopt the relevant proposals and recommendations introduced by the European Union and international organisations. The Section finds it important that the population census to be carried out in the Russian Federation in the end of the millennium complies with European practices and meets the expectations in regard to minorities1. As a methodological solution we propose that Finno-Ugric peoples be counted in population censuses in all parts and corners of the world where they are settled. We propose the Consultative Committee to find an organisational form to accomplish this, thus assisting the various partners engaged in this work. Scientific co-operation among Finno-Ugric peoples in the relevant spheres must be extended to the international scale as well, including the activities of relevant agencies and institutions of the United Nations and the European Union.

It is essential to have development and funding programmes specifically intended for Finno-Ugric co-operation. We propose that Finno-Ugric peoples assist each other in gaining access to the relevant development and funding programmes, domestic as well as international. The three independent states with Finno-Ugric languages speaking populations are already actors in the international co-operation in many aspects.

We hope that the Finno-Ugric peoples would take all this into account and would spare their attention to the issues outlined herein when acting on the international arena.

Béla Bene
Secretary of the Section

Source: 2nd World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples.
Budapest, 1996 [Debrecen, 1999], pp. 218–220.

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I - Syktyvkar, 1992
III - Helsinki, 2000
IV - Tallinn, 2004