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 is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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