ChildLinks Issue 1: Children's Health

Barnardos. (2014). ChildLinks Issue 1: Children's Health.
In Budget 2014, the Government announced that it would be introducing free GP cards for under-sixes, a welcome first step that will alleviate the pressure on many parents of having to choose between paying a bill or putting food on the table and paying for a GP visit for their sick child. In this issue of ChildLinks, Barnardos examines the role of good health in childhood as fundamental to a child’s positive development and also an important indicator of well-being in later life. Access to healthcare, therefore, while being a core human right for any of us, is all the more important for our children, not just because of children’s often immediate and pressing need, but because access to quality healthcare can ensure every child in Ireland is given the best start in life. Over recent years a wealth of information on all aspects of the lives of children and young people has been made available through the Growing Up in Ireland study. The study looks at the physical health of young children in Ireland, identifying the key factors which most help or hinder their development and examining their progress and well-being at critical periods from birth to adulthood. As a nation we have made a number of recent advances in terms of health and health care, however, there are still a number of ongoing threats to our children’s health and well-being. The Cork Children’s Lifestyle Study assesses the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Irish children, explores factors associated with childhood overweight and obesity, and assesses the average salt intake and distribution of blood pressure in children in Ireland. The Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity study assesses indices of health and fitness among children and analyses information on the factors influencing physical activity, physical education and sport participation levels of children in Ireland. The information collected has provided guidance to the development of policy in the areas of health, sport, education, transport and the environment, all of which have important roles to play in getting Irish children more active more often. Mary Roche from Child Health and Screening in the HSE looks at unintentional injuries to children and injury prevention in an Irish and International context and discusses current research, policy and practice initiatives in Ireland. The final two articles in this issue look at health promotion in early years care and education, a sector ideally positioned to target interventions from infancy to preschool.