Where is it hardest to be a girl?

A girl under 15 is married every seven seconds; others are forced to live a life of modern-day slavery. Around the world, girls are at risk of trafficking, forced labour and sexual violence – especially if a war, earthquake or flood tears their homes apart.

Save the Children has produced a report that throws new light on the many discriminations faced by girls in 144 countries around the world. They have also produced an interactive map enabling readers to compare and contrast the quality of girls’ lives in different countries.

Use the map showing where it is hardest to be a girl on the savethechildren.org website

Investing in health literacy

Nearly half the European population is thought to have difficulty identifying, understanding and using health information. As this has real and negative health consequences, improving health literacy is a crucial step in improving people’s health. Health literacy skills are best developed early in life, which means the education sector is an important player, but it is not always easy to secure investment across sectors or to persuade the education sector to engage.

However, there is evidence that investing in health literacy in schools helps with outcomes beyond health. Some of the co-benefits include the possibility of better educational outcomes in school, leading to enhanced career opportunities and increased economic benefits for children when they reach adulthood. These co-benefits also contribute to better physical and emotional health and can be passed down to future generations.

The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies has produced a report on these co-benefits and outlines the evidence on how to secure them, in the hope this will increase support from outside the health sector and facilitate the implementation of health literacy programmes.

To download the report on the benefits of health literacy from the euro.who.int website

Perinatal mental health

Perinatal mental illnesses affect at least 10% of new mothers and can have a devastating impact on them and their families. When mothers suffer from illnesses such as anxiety, depression and postnatal psychotic disorders it increases the likelihood of their children experiencing behavioural, social or learning difficulties and failing to fulfil their potential.

This project (PATH) is applying for funding from the Interreg 2Seas programme and will devise and pilot a range of services within local areas to ensure that women who are at risk of, or suffering from, perinatal mental illnesses are given appropriate support at the earliest opportunity. These services will support new mothers in their return to work and will have a clear cost benefit to them, their families and to health systems. Perinatal mental illnesses in the UK are estimated to cost society around £8.1 billion for each one-year cohort of births, with 72% of this cost relating to adverse, long-term  impacts on the child.

We have only just started looking for partners but already have interested organisations in the UK including KMPT, Plymouth MIND and the Institute of Health Visitors as well as Odisee and Karel de Grote University in Belgium.

Maternal nutrition linked to children’s risk of NCDs and obesity

The nutritional well-being of pregnant women affects not only their fetuses’ development but also children’s long-term risk of developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or obesity, according to a new report from WHO/Europe “Good maternal nutrition. The best start in life”.

While the importance of good nutrition in the early development of children has been recognized for decades, the report offers a systematized review of the most recent evidence on maternal nutrition and obesity and NCD prevention. The findings confirm that a mother’s nutritional status – including overweight and obesity, excessive gestational weight gain and gestational diabetes – affects not only her child’s health as an infant but also the child’s risk of obesity and related chronic diseases as an adult. In short, maternal nutrition can truly have an intergenerational impact.

The findings of this report further emphasize the need to implement strategies to optimize the nutrition of reproductive-age women. The evidence suggests that such interventions are among the most effective and sustainable means of achieving positive effects on health and reducing health inequalities across the next generation.

For more information about the impact of maternal nutrition on children on the euro.who.int website

 

Online violence towards children

UNICEF has launched a campaign – ENDviolence online – to highlight the perils of the internet for children today.

As part of this campaign it has produced a report “Perils and possibilities: growing up online” which showcases young people’s perceptions of the risks children and adolescents face coming of age in the digital world. As the boundary between online and offline fades, explore what children face in the ether today – and how we can all support them.

To download the report and find out more about the campaign for internet safety for children on the unicef.org website.

E-cigarettes and secondary school children

There has been a rapid rise in the retail availability of e-cigarettes in the UK and this study looks at the relationship between e-cigarette point-of-sale displays and e-cigarette use in young people.

A cross sectional survey was conducted in four high schools in Scotland and a response rate of 87 % and a total sample of 3808 was achieved. The survey found that adolescents who recalled seeing e-cigarettes in small shops or supermarkets were more likely to have tried an e-cigarette or intended to try them in the next six months.

To read all the details of this e-cigarette survey on the bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com website

Children in the developed world

Across the OECD, the risks of poverty have been shifting from the elderly towards youth since the 1980s. These developments accentuate the need to monitor the well-being of the most disadvantaged children, but income inequality also has far-reaching consequences for society, harming educational attainment, key health outcomes and even economic growth.

UNICEF has produced a report ‘Fairness for Children’ which contains league tables of inequality in child well-being in rich countries. It analyses the situation in 41 countries in the EU and OECD and focuses on ‘bottom-end inequality’ – the gap between children at the bottom and those in the middle – and addresses the question ‘how far behind are children being allowed to fall?’ in income, education, health and life satisfaction.

To read the full report on the unicef-irc.org website

Tobacco control in Slovenia

The Slovenian Health Ministry is proposing to tighten restrictions on tobacco products, in line with new EU rules, and also to introduce new levies to finance smoking prevention. This bill would reflect the new EU tobacco products directive and measures imposed by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The draft bill, the first overhaul of tobacco legislation since major limits on sales, advertising and smoking in public were imposed in 2007, seeks to discourage smoking, in particular among young people.

For more information about Slovenian tobacco control legislation on the euro.who.int website.

Decade of Action on Nutrition

Nearly 800 million people are chronically undernourished and 159 million children under 5 years of age are stunted. Approximately 50 million children under 5 years are wasted and over two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies. Meanwhile 1.9 billion people are overweight – of whom over 600 million are obese – and the prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing in nearly all countries.

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed a UN Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025.

The resolution aims to trigger intensified action to end hunger and eradicate malnutrition worldwide, and ensure universal access to healthier and more sustainable diets – for all people, whoever they are and wherever they live. It calls on governments to set national nutrition targets for 2025 and milestones based on internationally agreed indicators.

For more information about the Decade of Action on Nutrition on the who.int website

Toys eaten by children

The EU’s independent Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) has published its final Opinion on estimates of the amount of toy materials ingested by children. The SCHER was asked to review available data on the ingestion of the following three types of toy material by children, and evaluate whether the ingestion amounts are still appropriate or should be changed:

  • Dry, brittle, powder-like or pliable toy material (ingestion amount 100 mg/da)
  • Liquid or sticky toy material (400 mg/day)
  • Scraped-off toy material (8 mg/day)

In the final Opinion the SCHER considers the ingestion amounts mentioned above to be appropriate, and that these ingestion amounts should remain classified as daily amounts rather than weekly.

To read the Final Opinion on the ec.europa.eu website

To read more about the Commission’s Independent Scientific Committees on the ec.europa.eu website