Every child should have every opportunity to live a healthy and meaningful life. To ensure this happens, the Member States in the WHO European Region have adopted a new strategy “Investing in children: child and adolescent health strategy for Europe 2015–2020”.
The strategy recommends adopting a life-course approach that recognizes that adult health and illness are rooted in health and experiences in previous stages of the life-course. Targeted effort is needed to break the negative cycles in childhood and adolescence such as no exclusive breastfeeding, poor early childhood development and lack of support in growing through adolescence. This will enable children and young people to develop into healthy, happy and competent individuals who can make a positive contribution to their own health and to society.
It is recommended that a targeted focus is used for developing national child and adolescent health strategies including:
- narrowing poverty divides;
- giving children and adolescents- including hard-to-reach and disadvantaged groups- a voice in creating a national health strategy which affects them;
- investing in the protection of children and adolescents, promotion of their health, and prevention of disease to save costs in the long run in health services;
- utilizing evidence that is readily available;
- developing good relationships with all relevant sectors as well as national and local organizations to improve all parts of the health system;
- protecting children and young people from environmental risks such as the provision of safe drinking-water, safe environments to play and adequate housing.
Making children and adolescents lives more visible by giving a greater focus on their specific needs and including policy and programme developments based on child rights at all levels will contribute to a stronger impact on their health and well-being.