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Opinion Pieces, Editorial Address New Report On Effects Of Various Policies On Child, Maternal Health

The World Policy Analysis Centre recently released a report examining the effects of policies in a number of areas — including health, education, discrimination, and labor laws — on maternal and child health. The following is a summary of opinion pieces and an editorial addressing the report.

  • Jody Heymann and Kristen McNeill, Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog: Saying it is easier to find data on the cost of McDonald’s food in different countries than data on child health and labor, Heymann, dean of the Fielding School of Public Health at the University of California and the report’s author, and McNeill, the coordinator of the Children’s Chances Initiative, write that the data in the new report “allow us to answer questions … in areas key to children’s development.” They continue, “Before this project, answering many of these questions would have required reading thousands of pages of legislation and policy reports in multiple languages,” and they discuss why knowing and sharing the report’s data is important (2/12).
  • Catherine Mbengue, CNN’s “African Voices” blog: “Children’s opportunities are not just shaped by parents and families, but also by national action in the form of laws and public policies,” Mbengue, a trustee of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) and former senior UNICEF official, writes, adding, “And as the new analysis confirms, marked strides have been made across sub-Saharan Africa in areas central to our children’s healthy development.” Mbengue recaps some of the data from the report and states, “It is only when we begin to call out country’s names — the leaders and the laggards — that we’ll see all children count on having a childhood where they can go to school and not labor full-time, a childhood free of marriages that require them to parent before they have grown up themselves, getting the education they need to find work that will lift them out of poverty, and not facing discrimination based on their gender or ethnicity” (2/13).
  • Lancet: “The report represents an impressive body of work that has taken a decade to complete and begins to quantify what countries are actually doing to make a difference to children’s lives,” the editorial states, adding, “It suggests that many inadequacies in national policies and laws are due to lack of political will, even though several policies are readily affordable, such as breastfeeding breaks in the workplace, making it illegal for children to do hazardous work, and enacting non-discrimination laws.” The editorial continues, “As discussions on the post-2015 development goals continue, the global community should use these findings to address gaps not only within the health sector, but also between sectors that crucially influence health and conditions for health” (2/16).