Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall, in partnership with Child Health BC, released the report "Is 'Good', Good Enough? The Health and Well-being of Children and Youth in B.C." today.
The report focuses on five dimensions of health and well-being that play a significant role in a child’s life:
- Physical health and well-being:
- Mental and emotional health and well-being;
- Social relationships;
- Economic and material well-being; and
- Cognitive development.
This comprehensive look at the health and well-being of children and youth in British Columbia includes examination of 51 indicators on a broad range of subjects, from birth weights, to immunizations, to self-esteem, to substance use, to nutrition and food security.
“Our report shows that the overall health and well-being of children and youth in B.C. is quite good,” Dr. Kendall said. “Strong progress has been made in supporting the health of the province’s young people, but there are some disparities in health and well-being, particularly based on sex/gender and geography. There are about 960,000 children and youth in B.C., and more exploration, analyses and focused attention are needed to ensure that groups of them are not left behind as the overall health of this population improves.”
This report is the first of its kind in Canada. It is the product of the collaboration of experts throughout B.C. and uses data from numerous sectors to present a holistic view of the health and well-being of children and youth. This report serves as a baseline for measuring improvement as the Ministry of Health and its partners continue to work to support the health and well-being of children and youth in B.C. It is also available to the public to support programs and policies that advance child and youth health and well-being.
In addition to publishing the report as a book, Child Health BC and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer are launching a report website. The website includes the charts from the report in an interactive format with downloadable highlights, tools and resources. The goal of this website is to provide report findings and recommendations in an easily accessible and functional way to all British Columbians who contribute to programs for children and youth.
“Our collaboration on this work means that the information and learning from this report will be useful to the many partners, agencies and providers who serve children and who want to do their part to enhance child and youth health and well-being in B.C.” said Dr. Maureen O’Donnell, executive director of Child Health BC. “The website version of the report also means that people can quickly access information relevant to their region.”
For example, this report shows that the B.C. infant mortality rate has decreased by more than half over the last 28 years and that the number of kindergarten children with visible tooth decay has also decreased between 2003 and 2013. In addition, the percentage of youth who have ever used tobacco has gone from 34.1% in 2003 down to 20.7% in 2013, while the percentage of those who have used marijuana decreased from 37.4% to 25.5% during that time.
The report also offers five recommendations for collective action among government ministries, communities, health authorities, school boards, and children, youth and families to further improve child and youth health. These include calling for a commitment to address health disparities based on sex/gender and geography; creating an inter-ministerial committee to support actions generated from the report; developing mechanisms to share best practices; developing a coordinated approach to ongoing data collection and reporting; and creating an ongoing forum to engage B.C. youth with community stakeholders.
Child Health BC, an initiative of BC Children’s Hospital, is a network, which includes all health authorities, key child-serving ministries, health professionals, and provincial partners dedicated to improving the health status and health outcomes of British Columbia’s children and youth.
To learn more about Child Health BC and to for the full report, please visit: www.ChildHealthIndicatorsBC.ca