Reducing childhood obesity in Poland by effective policies

Being overweight affects about 14% of Polish girls and almost 20% of boys. Childhood obesity is a health concern, as it increases the demand for paediatric treatment. Moreover, the slow but continuous increase in the prevalence in Poland over the past 40 years and the fact that an obese child will most likely become an obese adult indicates that childhood obesity jeopardises the sustainability of our health system.

To read the report on reducing childhood obesity in Poland on the WHO/Europe website go to: WHO/Europe | WHO European Office for NCDs – Reducing childhood obesity in Poland by effective policies (2017)

WHO | Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused

Sexual abuse of children and adolescents is a gross violation of their rights and a global public health problem. It adversely affects the health of children and adolescents. Health care providers are in a unique position to provide an empathetic response to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused. Such a response can go a long way in helping survivors recover from the trauma of sexual abuse.

WHO has published new clinical guidelines Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused aimed at helping front-line health workers, primarily from low resource settings, in providing evidence-based, quality, trauma-informed care to survivors. The guidelines emphasises the importance of promoting safety, offering choices and respecting the wishes and autonomy of children and adolescents. They cover recommendations for post-rape care and mental health; and approaches to minimising distress in the process of taking medical history, conducting examination and documenting findings.

To download the publication on the WHO website go to: WHO | Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused

State of children’s medicines in the EU

The European Commission had presented a report to the European Parliament and the Council, on progress made in children’s medicines since the Paediatric Regulation came into force 10 years ago. It concludes that positive advances in the development of medicines for children could not have been achieved without specific EU legislation – e.g. the authorisation of 260 new medicines. The Paediatric Regulation also gives a good return on investment. However, the report acknowledges that more effort is needed to combine the effects of the Paediatric with those of the Orphan medicines Regulation to address shortcomings in treating rare diseases in children.

Commenting on the report, VytenisAndriukaitis, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Whereas I am pleased with the overall progress made in improving children’s access to safe, tailored medicines, I am committed to extending these positive gains to children with rare diseases. When we consider the advances in adult oncology, it upsets me deeply that we have not made the same progress in treating the cancers that affect children. In the next 10 years we must focus on making similar breakthroughs for children, by combining the incentives under the Orphans and the Paediatric Regulations, and by ensuring that the European Reference Networks – in particular ‘ERN PaedCan’ on paediatric cancer, reach full capacity”.

To read more about this on the European Commission website go to: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-4121_en.htm

Children in the developed world

1 in 5 children in high-income countries lives in relative income poverty and an average of 1 in 8 faces food insecurity, according to the latest report by the UNICEF Office of Research.

This report ‘Building the Future: children and the sustainable development goals in rich countries’ is the first report to assess the status of children in 41 high-income countries in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) identified as most important for child well-being. It ranks countries based on their performance and details the challenges and opportunities that advanced economies face in achieving global commitments to children.

To download the report on the status of children in high-income countries from the unicef-irc.org website

Feeling low in adolescence

About half of all mental health problems in adulthood have their onset during or before adolescence. Improving resilience to mental illness among young people is very important, as poor mental health in adolescence is linked to unemployment, crime, increased rates of smoking, drug use, obesity and future mental ill health. Support and early interventions designed to promote well-being are key to building such resilience.

Feeling low from time to time can be normal for adolescents. However, regular and prolonged periods of low mood can progress to depression and negatively impact long-term health, well-being and development.

Being in good emotional and physical health enables young people to deal with the challenges of adolescence and eases their transition into adulthood. Positive mental well-being in childhood is associated with increased social competence and good coping strategies that lead to more positive outcomes in adulthood. Addressing low feelings among young people and teaching them coping mechanisms that promote resilience is vital to protecting and promoting their mental health.

For more information about adolescents and mental health on the euro.who.int website

Over 1.2 million adolescents die every year, nearly all preventable

Across the world, more than 3,000 adolescents die every day from largely preventable causes according to a report from the World Health Organisation.

Road traffic injuries, lower respiratory infections, and suicide are the biggest causes of death among adolescents and most of these could be prevented with good health services, education and social support. However, in many cases, adolescents who suffer from mental health disorders, substance use, or poor nutrition cannot obtain critical prevention and care services – either because the services do not exist, or because they do not know about them.

In addition, many behaviours that impact health later in life, such as physical inactivity, poor diet, and risky sexual health behaviours, begin in adolescence.

To read more about preventable adolescent deaths on the who.int website

Controlling speeding drivers

Around 1.25 million people die every year on the world’s roads. Studies indicate that:

  • almost half of all drivers exceed the speed limit
  • drivers who are male, young and under the influence of alcohol are more likely to be involved in speed-related crashes
  • road traffic accidents (RTAs) are the number one cause of death among young people aged 15–29 years
  • RTAs are estimated to cost countries from 3–5% of GDP and push many families into poverty.

‘Managing speed’, a new report from WHO, suggests that excessive or inappropriate speed contributes to 1 in 3 road traffic fatalities worldwide. Measures to address speed prevent road traffic deaths and injuries, make populations healthier, and cities more sustainable.

To read more about speed management to save lives from the who.int website

Measles outbreaks across Europe

Over 500 measles cases were reported for January 2017 in Europe with 85% of them coming from 7 of the 14 endemic countries (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine). Measles continues to spread within and among European countries, with the potential to cause large outbreaks wherever immunization coverage has dropped below the necessary threshold of 95%.

As the WHO Regional Director for Europe pointed out:   “Today’s travel patterns put no person or country beyond the reach of the measles virus. Outbreaks will continue in Europe, as elsewhere, until every country reaches the level of immunization needed to fully protect their populations.”

Preliminary information for February indicates that the number of new infections is sharply rising. In all of the countries listed above, estimated national immunization coverage with the second dose of measles-containing vaccine is less than the 95% threshold.

For more information about measles in Europe from the euro.who.int website

Youth in Health in Action

The European Solidarity Corps offers young Europeans from 18 to 30 years old the opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives. Aiming for 100,000 placements by 2020, NGOs, Member State authorities and other organisations can offer quality placements for volunteering, traineeships or jobs.

Health is an integral part of this initiative. There are many ways young people could play a part in health projects, making use of their skills be it language, communication, IT or medical skills. If you have ideas and projects which you think could provide young people from the Solidarity Corps with opportunities to learn and demonstrate solidarity, the Corps would like to hear from you.

For more information on the European Solidarity Corps on the ec.europa.eu website

Autism spectrum disorders

According to the latest factsheet from the WHO, 1 in 160 children world-wide has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and for most of them, the condition becomes apparent during the first 5 years of life.

ASD refers to a range of conditions characterised by some degree of impaired social behaviour, communication and language, and a narrow range of interests and activities that are both unique to the individual and carried out repetitively. ASDs begin in childhood and tend to persist into adolescence and adulthood.

For more information about autism spectrum disorders and to download the Parent Skills Training Package on the who.int website