Child poverty linked to poorer health

By June Shannon Policy News   |   29th May 2019

Children’s health inequalities to feature at special conference next month.

Poverty and deprivation are bad for your health and children who grow up in consistent poverty are particularly vulnerable to poorer health outcomes.

Health inequalities and their effect on children in disadvantaged areas will be the focus of the 2019 annual general meeting of Deep End Ireland; a group of GPs working in some of the most deprived communities in Ireland.

The conference, which takes place at the RCSI on Saturday 08th of June will hear from a number of experts in the area of child health including, Professor Graham Watt, Emeritus Professor of General Practice in Glasgow and one of the founding members of the Deep End Scotland group who will address the event on the ‘Exceptional potential of General Practice.’ Dr Sharon Lambert from the School of Applied Psychology at University College Cork (UCC) will talk about the lifelong impact of childhood experiences.

"We have known for decades that lower socio-economic groups have relatively higher mortality rates, higher levels of ill health and fewer resources to adopt healthier lifestyles."

Tim Collins, CEO , Irish Heart Foundation

Dr Edel McGinnity a GP from Mulhuddart in Dublin will interview a parent from a deprived area who will share her experiences of struggling to access healthcare for her child and the impact that has had on the entire family.

The day will also feature a panel discussion of experts including the CEO of the Irish Heart Foundation Mr Tim Collins, Ms Laura Magahy, Executive Director Slaintecare, Ms Tanya Ward, CEO of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Prof Graham Watt and Dr Sharon Lambert.

Commenting Mr Collins said, “We have known for decades that lower socio-economic groups have relatively higher mortality rates, higher levels of ill health and fewer resources to adopt healthier lifestyles. These differences are particularly stark when you look at childhood obesity where children in disadvantaged areas are at much higher risk. Closing these gaps is a particular priority for the Irish Heart Foundation in the context of our new strategy.”

Coupled with living with ill-health for longer, people living in disadvantaged communities have more than double the rate of cancer mortality, a 120 per cent higher rate of death from circulatory diseases such as heart disease and stroke and a more than 150 per cent higher rates of injuries than those living in more affluent areas.

Living in deprivation can have a number of negative effects on children’s physical and psychological health


Professor Susan Smith is Professor of Primary Care Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI). She also works as a GP in Inchicore in Dublin and is a member of Deep End Ireland.

According to Prof Smith, living in deprivation can have a number of negative effects on children’s physical and psychological health and many of these problems are impacted by the lack of primary care resources to support children’s psychological and developmental problems and excessively long waiting times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHs).

“The biggest impact is around children’s emotional wellbeing and their mental health, there is so much that GPs can do to help and support children and their parents to access services but these services need to be provided based on community needs rather than geographical distribution. There are higher health needs in deprived communities and we need more services to address these needs compared to more affluent areas”.

“We want to explore the potential for general practice to intervene earlier and to help kids to address some of these health inequalities and that means resourcing primary care in deprived areas based on the needs of those areas not just on the number of patients living there,” she said.

Deep End Ireland was launched in October 2016 and is modelled on the original Deep End GP project in Scotland.

The Deep End group in Scotland was developed in 2009 to enable GPs to share their experiences of the challenges they face in caring for some of the most deprived sectors of society. The group acts as a network for GPs who are dealing with similar problems of health inequalities on a day to day basis.

The Deep End Ireland conference is free to attend and is open to everyone with an interest in child health.

To register for the conference please see here


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Related Topics

child health childhood obesity health inequality

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