A leading children’s health organisation is calling for the next Government to introduce a national 20mph zone across residential areas and graduated licensing for novice drivers of all ages, as part of a suite of measures to improve the state of child health.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) says Britain faces “serious consequences” unless politicians “value our children as much as the elderly”.
In its manifesto ‘Vision2015’, launched earlier this week, RCPCH challenges all political parties to commit to a series of measures that it says will radically improve the state of child health in the UK.
The report says the UK’s child mortality rate is the second worst in Western Europe and that Britain is dubbed ‘the fat man of Europe’ – with a third of children overweight or obese by the age of nine years.
Writing in the foreword, Dr Hilary Cass, RCPCH president, says there will be ‘serious consequences’ for inaction on improving children and young people’s health given that half of the top 10 risk factors for the total burden of disease are initiated or shaped in adolescence.
Dr Cass says: “The main focus of health and social care policy from successive Government has been on meeting the needs of an ageing population. Many of the big ticket policies – such as pension increases, winter fuel allowances and free TV licences – have made a welcome difference to many older people. We now want to see equal focus given to our younger population.”
One of the recommendations to tackle the UK’s poor childhood mortality rate is to “reduce the national speed limit in built up areas to 20mph to reduce the number of deaths by road traffic accidents”.
It is also lobbying for the introduction of graduated licensing schemes for novice drivers of all ages “which has been shown to reduce road related deaths in countries that have applied it”.
Other measures the Royal College is calling for include restricting advertising that encourages unhealthy eating and preventing children from having cheap access to alcohol.