In March 2020, The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health launched their child health report – the largest ever compilation of data on the health of babies, children and young people across the entire UK. State of Child Health 2020 brings together 28 measures of health outcomes, ranging from specific conditions, such as asthma, epilepsy and mental health problems, to risk factors for poor health such as poverty, low rates of breastfeeding and obesity.
The report shows that, for many measures of children’s health and wellbeing, progress has stalled, or is in reverse – something rarely seen in high-income countries. There are parallels with the Marmot Review 10 Years On in that, across most indicators, health outcomes are worse for children who live in deprived areas while inequalities have widened since the last State of Child Health report published in 2017.
Taking practical actions now to reverse these trends
There is a lot of work ahead to get a grip of the state of child health in the UK. The report highlights the need for action in the following three areas:
- Reduce child health inequalities: Action should be taken to tackle the causes of poverty and reduce variation in outcomes.
- Prioritise public health, prevention and early intervention: Preventative measures will reverse current trends and ensure healthy children become healthy adults.
- Build and strengthen local, cross-sector services: There should be equitable access to services, resources, advice and support within the local community.
Along with their recommendations, the RCPCH offers a number of specific, practical actions that health practitioners can take to improve matters for children and young people seen in clinical settings, including:
- Make every contact count
- Signpost disadvantaged children, young people and their families to sources of support
- Advocate for local children, young people and their families
- Take an active role in supporting child health research and data collection
- Make child health a joyful place to work
To read the report in full, please click here.
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