A wake-up call on children’s well-being: do more, do it now

It’s official – the Chief Medical Officer is ‘profoundly ashamed’. In her report on child health, Professor Dame Sally Davies highlights appalling inequalities in the UK, with three times as many child deaths in the poorest areas compared with wealthier regions, and shows us to be a nation lagging behind our European neighbours too. Much more needs to be done to improve the health of Britain’s children and it needs to be done sooner, she says. Early, preventive action rather than reaction will benefit both the health and the wealth of the nation. I thought I’d take a look at where Cochrane evidence might fit into her vision of what needs to be done. Continue reading

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Improving housing to improve health – warmth and space are key

Key message: Housing needs to have adequate space and be maintained at a comfortable indoor temperature to promote health. Improving warmth in the home can lead to better health, especially for those with inadequate warmth and with chronic respiratory disease.

Do our homes affect our health? Of course! Strong links between poor housing and poor health are well established. So improving housing conditions may improve the health of the people who live there, right? That seems a reasonable assumption, but it’s not quite so simple as it first seems. Poor housing is often one strand in a web of factors linked with poor health, such as poverty, pre-existing poor health and old age, and they can be tricky to untangle. There are also contextual factors to consider; temperature control as an influence on health may be about adequate warmth in colder countries but keeping people cool in hotter climates. Continue reading

Guest blog: Slum upgrading – improving health and wellbeing?

This guest blog was written by Dr Ruhi Saith, a Research Fellow based in New Delhi and an author of the review from the Cochrane Public Health Group on which this blog is based.

Globally over one billion slum dwellers reside in informal housing and according to UN predications this figure will increase to 1.4 billion by 2020. Whilst progress towards the UN millennium goals, which aim to improve the lives of slum dwellers, is being made, slum improvements have failed to keep pace with the growing ranks of the urban poor. Continue reading