Politicians will today argue that Wales needs a long-term vision for child health – one which promises health and wellbeing from birth.

In a Welsh Conservative debate, Shadow Health Secretary Angela Burns AM will assess how issues ranging from breast-feeding and housing conditions to parental mental health status and the quality of relationships can have a long-term effect on the health of children.

With the gap IN health inequalities between the richest and poorest widening, Ms Burns will call for a new approach to tackle this effect and ensure that children grow up to be resilient adults in terms of mental and physical health and wellbeing.

A Welsh Conservative motion will URGE ministers to conduct research into the health effects of bullying – including online – and will urge more consistency in the NHS’ offer of mental health support for pregnant women across Wales.

Currently, just 4% of the NHS budget is targeted solely for women and children’s health needs.

The motion will also seek to extend the Welsh Government’s Cancer Experience Survey, which is currently only available to over 16s, so that it factors in younger children’s experiences too.

“We need a clear and unambiguous vision for childhood health and wellbeing in Wales,” said Angela Burns AM.

“Children and adolescents’ physical and mental health is one of the least protected areas of health spending. We all know of the problems in CAMHS and the difficulty of those with medical and educational needs in accessing support.

“The Chief Medical Officer has reinforced what we already know; that adverse childhood experiences have a detrimental effect on the development of a young person, and that multiple traumatic life experiences often result in individuals who struggle in later life with their health and wellbeing.

Ms Burns added: “This is an area all political parties should engage with because children with good health and a good sense of wellbeing have enormous advantages in developing their potential as healthy, well-rounded citizens of the future.”

Welsh Conservative Shadow Secretary for Children, Darren Millar AM, said:

“In Wales, policymakers are effectively working in the dark when it comes to child health.

“Far too many illnesses affecting children and pregnant mothers are poorly monitored by the Welsh Labour Government, meaning we do not know the full extent of their effect or what steps to take to combat them.

“Welsh children deserve the best possible start in life to ensure a resilient and healthy future, which does not require regular NHS intervention – and that starts with proper data collection.

“The Cabinet Secretary must bring forward a long-term vision for child health which promotes health and wellbeing from birth. As we know, sticking-plaster solutions are expensive and don’t tackle the root of the issue.”

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