UK Child death Rates too High

English: Skull and crossbones

English: Skull and crossbones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A shocking new study has revealed that almost five in every 1,000 children born in the UK die before the age of five, the highest death rates in Europe, with  UK children more likely to die very young than in any other western European country other than the island of Malta, something report authors of this global study found surprising in  a country with free, universal healthcare.

It was a global study conducted by Seattle based IHME -Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation – researchers, which found that in 2012, 3,000  UK children died before their first birthday. Deaths among such young children are directly attributed to poverty and deprivation being experienced in the UK, cuts in welfare having a terrible impact.

The report concluded that deaths of babies under the age of one tended to happen in deprived households, where such infants typically have a low birth-weight, whilst between the ages of one and five, most deaths were linked to injuries, accidents and serious diseases.

US death rates are the worst recorded, at 6.6 child deaths per 1,000 births, but the healthcare system there is far different from that in the UK, where rate of 4.9 is unacceptably high, and almost twice that of Iceland, as well as lagging well behind Sweden, Finland and Norway. Report authors were amazed, the UK having made so many significant advances in public health over the years.

IHME director Dr Christopher Murray commented that these higher than expected IK child death rate figures are a stark reminder that, even as worldwide child mortality rates are declining, countries need to examine what they are doing to keep youngsters safe. Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Dr Ingrid Wolfe also published a report saying that the UK is no longer the best place in the world to grow up.

Politicians, it seems, are simply not taking child health seriously enough, possibly due to a UK wide poor organisation of children’s health services, and until politicians take child health more seriously, newborns and older children will probably continue to suffer and die for no good reason.

The figures show that UK child deaths are high in comparison to the rest of western Europe, and higher for the under-fives than in countries such as South Korea, Australia, Israel and Japan. This damning report, by the National Children’s Bureau called call for an end to the UK welfare cap, which is impacting fatally on young children. In response, health minister  Dan Poulter retorted that the government investment in children is aimed at giving every child the very best start in life, and though more needs to be done, health inequalities are soon to become a thing of the past, though when exactly is unclear.

Shadow public health minister Luciana Berger called these reported child death rates to be a tragedy not befitting a civilised country, that welfare cap needing to be set at a regional level to make fairer, but the Department of Health commented that this was a matter for the Treasury, so there seems no immediate prospect of a solution being found to this scandalous state of affairs.


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