Since I first began to think about writing this commentary, the current global economic crisis has started to influence national and provincial child health policy and research environments. In that report, she identified five key items for particular attention injury prevention, childhood obesity, mental health services, longitudinal data to help understand environmental factors influencing child health, and the need for a National Office of Child and Youth Health. While population health remains a key strategy underpinning health and social development agendas, when public resources are limited, policy makers are particularly interested in improving the outcomes for those children at risk for less-than-optimal life trajectories related to their health and well-being.
Commentary on child health and well-being … the policy-research interface Nancy Reynolds Key words I Children and youth I Child health policy I Evidence-based practice olicy issues related to human health and development the evidence. Academic and clinical occupational therapy P are increasingly complex. The simple questions have generally been answered. There is often no simple cause and effect relationship on which to focus the pursuit of researchers will need to consider the alignment of future research pursuits with policy-relevant issues and questions. Recent developments in evidence to inform policy. This statement is particularly true when considering the opportunities and needs for evidence child health policy related to child health and well-being. The focus on child health policy at provincial and national Since I first began to think about writing this levels has been building strength in Canada over the past commentary, the current global economic crisis has started decade. There has been a progressive emergence and to influence national and provincial child health policy and convergence of many key policy agendas. As recently as 2007, research environments. The majority of child health policy Canada still only ranked 12th out of 21 wealthy countries in that has emerged over the decade has targeted long term the United Nations’ rankings of child well-being (UNICEF population health outcomes. With fewer resources and the Innocenti Research Centre, 2007). Results like the UN urgent need to contain the increasing percentage of the GDP ranking have helped to sustain the focus on policy to support spent on health care, health policy agendas in some provinces better outcomes for children. Early in the new millennium the are tightening their focus and targeting shorter term Federal/Provincial/Territorial Early Childhood Development outcomes such as increasing the efficiency and effectiveness Agreement (2001) emerged in Canada. Provinces developed of health care services. In the research community, many their own policy initiatives in alignment with the national organisations are anticipating reductions or in some cases framework. In 2005, national health goals were developed, even an elimination of their funding from federal and again through a federal/provincial/territorial process. The provincial governments in the 2009/10 fiscal year. Other first stated goal is “Canada is a country where: Our children research organisations funded through endowments have reach their full potential, growing up happy, healthy, confident seen a significant reduction in their investment income. Our and secure” (Health Goals for Canada, 2005). collective challenge over the next several years will be to In May of 2006, the final report of the Standing Senate ensure the momentum that has been building in Canada Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, Out of related to child health policy and research is sustained. the Shadows at Last; Transforming Mental Health, Mental Systemic action and shared responsibility are necessary Illness and Addiction Services in Canada (2006) was published. foundations on which to develop effective policies that Chapter Six of the report is titled “Children and Youth.” This support optimal child health and well-being. Over the last report resulted in the establishment of the Mental Health decade, the policies that have been emerging in Canada to Commission of Canada. One of the key priorities for the support the agenda acknowledge the requirement for cross Commission is child and youth mental health. ministry and cross-sectoral systemic action. When funding is In 2007, Dr. Kelly Leitch was appointed as an Advisor on tight, support for this highly collaborative activity is often Healthy Children and Youth to the Federal Minister of impeded by the competing funding priorities that are the sole Health. Dr. Leitch consulted broadly across the country and responsibility of a particular ministry or child-serving sector, developed her report titled Reaching for the Top (2007). In both at the policy and service delivery levels. that report, she identified five key items for particular Timely and relevant research evidence will be required attention injury prevention, childhood obesity, mental health to inform decisions and future policy investments. However, services, longitudinal data to help understand environmental funding to support child health research will be more
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