This EPHA Briefing on Children’s Health aims to provide Members with an overview of important policy fields where such actions could be taken to adequately, timely, in line with "health in all policies" and with a lifecourse approach deal with social determinants of health inequalities in European societies.
Children represent the present and the future of our societies, and to guarantee their healthy and optimal development ought to be a priority. Early childhood is a critical time. These early, formative years serve as the foundation for all of life’s later endeavors. In the European Region on average, most children enjoy reasonably high standard of health and well-being. However, there are also huge differences in infant and child mortality rates between certain countries in the region – differences portraying vast health inequalities in Europe. From a policy perspective, much emphasis has been put on negative effects of poor health in the early life on the health outcomes of the adult population, but a more child-centered approach - highlighting positive well-being and quality of life in this age group as a specific goal for public health - would yield significant benefits complementing the vast array of undertaken activities in a coherent way.
The briefing presents a rationale behind a focus taken by EPHA to devote specific attention to developing an overview of EU policies and their impact on children’s health as a vulnerable group.
Children’s health is addressed through focusing on social determinants as the key to tackling health inequalities experienced by children’s population early in life - "Every year, 200 000 of under-fives die and much more suffer from ill health (WHO Europe). Just like for the general adult population chronic, communicable and non-communicable diseases are growing also among children population. Child injury is the leading cause of death, disability, inequity and burden for children and their families in every Member State in the EU." The best way to achieve the goal of improved health through focusing on social determinants is to tackle them very early, starting from perinatal conditions.
The document presents several policy areas where gaps and incoherences should be removed if children’s health - as well as the general adult population - would benefit in a profound way. These policy areas are a.o.:
maternal and newborn health;
financial security vs. precariousness;
mental health and well-being;
public health threats from re-emerging communicable diseases, antibiotic resistance and vaccination;
diet, nutrition and physical activity;
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