According to the report by Stella Kyriakides (Cyprus, EPP/CD), unanimously adopted by the Social Affairs Committee on 11 October in Strasbourg, even in the early 21st century, not all children in Europe enjoy equal access to healthcare services, which clearly diminishes their chances of leading happy and autonomous lives and equal opportunities.
“Since the most recent economic crisis, access to healthcare has notably become more difficult for children and families living in precarious situations, due to unemployment, poverty or migration” says Ms Kyriakides. Many health systems in Europe need consolidation and additional resources in order to guarantee “the highest attainable standard of health” to all children, as provided by the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the reports states.
The committee encouraged member States to express their concern about the persistent inequalities observed across Europe with regard to the availability and accessibility of health services for children and their subsequent health results. Besides providing adequate funding for public health systems, member States should in particular address the social determinants of health, develop health literacy programmes and provide special support to the most vulnerable groups of children, including, for example, children “on the move” (migrants and refugees), children of ethnic minorities, children with disabilities and children in remote rural areas.
To prevent long-term consequences for European societies on the whole, health issues concerning children need to be addressed in the most comprehensive manner, including physical and mental health of children in different age groups, reaching from pre-natal care to adolescent health.