Today’s report – Focus on the Health and Care of Young People – makes for interesting reading. It tells us of changes in society, highlights a number of positive health messages which we can be proud of, and points to health issues faced by our country where we must do better.
Positively, teen pregnancies are falling and A&E admissions for teenage drinking, smoking and drug taking are at their lowest levels since 2003 – young people are taking responsibility for their own health and this should be applauded.
On the down side, the report tells us that as a nation we must do better.
There are too many issues resulting from deprivation and inequality; infant mortality remains high with over 3,000 babies stillborn in 2013 and 2,700 dying before they reach their first birthday.
Sustained breastfeeding remains poor with just 57% of mothers continuing to six weeks. Obesity continues to blight our country, affecting around a third of children aged between 10-11 and an increasing number of very young children.
And it is truly shocking that 50% of 8 year olds’ have tooth decay.
The country needs to put a focus on early interventions and highlight the importance of healthy pregnancies and a good start in life. This includes breastfeeding support, healthy eating and prevention. We also need to target health policies at those most in need, ensuring those that are disadvantaged receive the support they require.
In addition, we need to measure health outcomes so that we have reliable evidence of what interventions work, and where resources and efforts must be targeted.
Effective policies need reliable data and this must be a national priority.