26th January 2017
The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) welcomes the findings of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) landmark report into the State of Child Health which calls for Government to introduce a comprehensive, national, child health and wellbeing strategy, reverse cuts to public health, and tighten controls over smoking, the sale of alcohol and advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.
According to the report, a lack of strategic national focus and persistence of a wide gap between rich and poor in the UK is damaging the health of the nation’s infants, children and young people. Compiled by child health experts, with input from children and young people themselves, the report provides clear recommendations to improve child health.
Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director of the iHV, said:
“The Institute of Health Visiting welcomes the findings of the report and fully supports all its recommendations. The snapshot of children’s health in the UK captured in this State of Child Health report is very worrying and upsetting. As a nation, we can’t afford to not invest in our children as they are our future, yet recently their needs seem to have become invisible against the many competing demands being made on government and the NHS. We know so much today with respect to what can influence children’s outcomes across their life course, and in turn benefit the whole country. It’s time to act, to help ensure the best health outcomes for all UK children today, and in the future, by giving them the best start in life. As an absolute priority and first step, the cuts to public health budgets must be stopped.”
The State of Child Health report brings together data for the first time on a comprehensive list of 25 measures of the health of UK children, ranging from specific conditions such as asthma, diabetes and epilepsy, risk factors for poor health such as obesity and a low rate of breastfeeding, to child deaths. The data provide an “across the board” snapshot of child health and wellbeing in the UK.
Nearly one in five children in the UK is living in poverty and inequality is blighting their lives, with those from the most deprived backgrounds experiencing much worse health compared with the most affluent. Despite some improvements in the health of UK children over the last decades, there is clear disparity with Europe and other developed countries, and major cause for concern.
Dr Adams added:
“We at the iHV will be working with the RCPCH to support their campaign to ensure child health becomes a key political priority, as only then will the prime minister’s aspirations for reducing inequalities become a reality.”
State of Child Health report:
Available on Thursday 26 January – www.rcpch.ac.uk/state-of-child-health