Politicians should focus on child health

Guest Blog by Dr Iseult Roche

A focus towards children’s  health and well-being, both physical and emotional has been called for following research initiated by The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health  – which highlighted concerns that children’s health is being pushed “to the wayside”, while health issues relating to older people were being well addressed.

The president of the college, Dr Cass,  is reported as saying: “We often see policies hitting the headlines that are targeted at the ageing population ….”

“But whilst caring for our ageing population is important, it shouldn’t mean that children’s health falls to the wayside.”

This may be true, and certainly no one would suggest that one age group’s care should be promoted at the expense of the other. Interestingly for any age group, the health agenda has to be a combination of public health, education and clinical intervention.

The research highlighted important public health initiatives and research poll data of over 2000 people showed Considerable support to stop fast food advertising during typical child viewing times, it also highlighted the importance of school cooking ( and presumably nutrition ) lessons and very importantly reducing speed limits.

Interestingly, their research highlighted over 80 % of people polled wanted compulsory personal, social and health education (PSHE)  in schools.

PSHE may have previously been overlooked by some,  when considering the overall health and well being of children.

wellbeingthumbnail2020health addressed wider health and well being issues even further in the policy group and report “fit for school“, my involvement with this and in my role as  Public Health Advisor in Local government , both make we wonder why it has taken a report to highlight these needs. Surely these are issues we ( and politicians) should be already addressing readily. After all, the future socio-economic outcome and burden will be inextricably linked to the next adult generation’s physical, emotional and psychological health and well being.

In Local Government,  I have helped drive  health initiatives directed towards children , and , I cannot help but think now public health is back in the hands of Local Government, the potential for good public health outcomes, especially for children, will potentially increase as they may  be better targeted group and will have time to benefit from the evolving public health structure at a ‘local’ level.

Dr Cass continued “I call on the next government to listen to the facts and listen to the public – make child health a priority. Not only does it make strong moral sense, it makes economic and political sense too.”

I agree, who wouldn’t, this is sensible, realistic and above all achievable….. Let’s just hope this incredibly important agenda is taken up thoroughly and does not simply become the next match of political health football.


About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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