The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) have launched a new report on child health, developed by the Faculty of Public Health (FPH) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).
The report, titled Securing our Healthy Future: prevention is better than cure, raises concerns about the lack of priority and focus on children in health policy and decision-making.
Health inequalities amongst young people are widening, and children growing up with disadvantage experience more ill-health in childhood and are likely to live shorter, less healthy lives as adults.
The framework that sets the direction and key focus areas of the government’s Major Conditions Strategy emphasises the importance of prevention, but does not outline a clear plan for children’s health. However, it is during childhood (starting from pregnancy) that prevention has the greatest – and most cost-effective – impact.
The report focuses on five indicators of child health (healthy weight, oral health, vaccinations, clean air, and mental health), all of which are highly influenced by the environment where children live.
The report highlights ten opportunities where the UK Government can take immediate action to protect the health of our next generation.
FPH President Professor Kevin Fenton said: “In order to support our NHS, invest in our future economic wellbeing, and protect and improve health for current and future generations, Government must do everything possible to prioritise the health of our children.
“Preventing people becoming ill is better than treating them when they are already sick; but we must also understand that supporting good health for our children is the most effective action we can take to secure a healthy, productive future for our families and our nation. When political focus is on treatment rather than prevention, the cost to society soars.
“As well as looking at protective factors and prevention, we also need investment in children's health services to support timely access to care, preventing health problems worsening and compounding into adulthood. We need holistic action to support a sustainable foundation for our future health.”
The joint report and recommendations are available here.