Wednesday, June 27, 2012

[EQ] The Right Start to a Healthy Life - Levelling-up the Health Gradient Among Children Young People and Families in the EU - What Works?

The Right Start to a Healthy Life

Levelling-up the Health Gradient Among Children, Young People and Families in the European Union – What Works?

Edited by Ingrid Stegeman and Caroline Costongs

EuroHealthNet - Brussels, Belgium - March 2012

The Book (220p) – is now online in a ZIP file at:


“….In all EU countries there is a systematic correlation between level of health and social status – a step-wise decrease in health that comes with decreasing social position. This correlation exists amongst children and young people as well as amongst adults. These social gradients in health are harmful and unjust, particularly when it comes to children and young people, since adversity during the early years negatively impacts on health across the life-course.

This book aims to improve knowledge on what can be done to level-up gradients in health. It is based on research undertaken during GRADIENT, a project funded under the EU Seventh Framework Programme.

On the basis of concrete examples and national comparisons, it identifies measures that can be taken to level socio-economic gradients in health. It looks at:

•Political and welfare-state factors

•How universal policies on social protection, education and health systems can contribute to reducing gradients in health

•Why social community capital matters

•The importance of monitoring the distributional effects of all policies

•The Gradient Evaluation Framework

•The role of the EU in tackling social gradients in health

The book provides final recommendations for policy makers and practitioners to ensure that all children and young people in the EU get the right start to a healthy life…..”

“… single policy or strategy can achieve a reduction of health inequalities and contribute to levelling the health gradient. Instead, it requires cross-governmental strategies, or ‘whole-of-government’ approaches, to develop coherent policies that address unequal distribution of resources in society and improve the underlying conditions that undermine the health of large segments of the population.

Whole-of-government efforts are also necessary to develop holistic approaches to improving the life circumstances of children and young people. If schools, for example, take measures to improve equity but this is not paired with measures to improve other conditions in which children live, these will have less effect.

Similarly, measures to improve access to quality health care will have only a limited impact on reducing morbidity rates among poorer children and young people if the underlying factors that lead to ill health are not also addressed.

It follows from this that most of the policies and interventions that are effective in contributing to levelling-up socio-economic gradients in health are not health-care related. The health sector, however, has an important role to play in ensuring that available public resources are invested in the delivery of good quality health care in proportion to need. It also has a very significant role to play in increasing awareness about health inequalities and socio-economic gradients in health, and in fostering collaborations with other sectors to optimise population health across the gradient…..”



Executive Summary

chapter 1: Health inequalities among children, young people and families in the EU

chapter 2: Understanding the political context

chapter 3: Examples of policies and interventions to address the health gradient

chapter 4: Working with the community to improve child health equity

chapter 5: Evaluating policies: applying the gradient equity lens

chapter 6: What is the EU doing to address the health gradient of children, young people and families?

Conclusions and recommendations



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