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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Poverty kills 400 Scottish children every year

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Charities and health experts claim poverty and inequality is key to the death of around 400 Scottish children every year

Poverty and inequality plays a pivotal role in the deaths of around 400 Scottish children and young people each year a group of child welfare experts has claimed.

A dozen people including doctors, professors and the heads of charities are demanding politicians take the welfare of children in Scotland more seriously in the run up to next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.

In an open letter, the signatories, including those from charities YoungMinds, Children in Scotland, Teenage Cancer Trust, Clic Sargent, Action For Sick Children Scotland and Place2Be, say Scotland has the poorest child and adolescent physical and mental health in Western Europe. For example, more than a quarter of children and young people in Scotland are overweight or obese.

“Approximately 400 Scottish infants, children and young people die each year,” they said.

“Poverty and inequalities play a pivotal role in these deaths and there are 210,000 children living in poverty in Scotland.

“With the 2016 election a little over six months away, we are calling on all politicians, regardless of political party, to make children and young people’s health a priority and adopt policies that will reduce health inequalities.

“A child health strategy which cuts across all government departments is key to making this a reality.”

The organisations say future policies should focus on promoting a healthy lifestyle during pregnancy as many child health problems develop or originate prior to birth.

They add that with the right policy interventions a significant proportion of these deaths are preventable and children and young people’s health could be greatly improved.