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Report on the future of children's health and wellbeing - expert comment

A new report by the WHO, the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) and the Lancet Commission looks at the future of the health and wellbeing of today's children. Warwick Medical School's Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown has praised this as a positive step, but argues that it could have gone further in recognising challenges to children's mental health.

Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown, of Warwick Medical School, said: “This is a very important and timely report, but the recommendations fall short of what is needed.

“Climate change is a key threat to health and wellbeing for all age groups, but most of all for children. And this is the first time a WHO report on health has given the needed emphasis to climate change and for this the Lancet Commission needs much congratulation.

“However what our children will need in order to survive, let alone thrive, in a world which is going to be very different (as a result of climate change) from what we know today is resilience and creativity. These attributes of thriving do not get sufficient mention, because the report’s ideas about what health is are not up to date. The emphasis is fairly and squarely still on physical health. This is very important but to give this priority over mental health is not going to deliver what children are going to need to survive in the future

“On the other hand, children do seem to know. The children’s voices in this report say that their most important needs were ‘parents who love me’ and ‘feeling safe and free from violence at home’. Feeling safe in their communities, a clean environment and good education were other needs, but these were not top of the list. These are the things that enable resilience and creativity to develop and thrive and we are not addressing them adequately.”

19 February 2020

For interviews contact:

Peter Thorley
Media Relations Manager (Warwick Medical School and Department of Physics)


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