In Manitoba, we spend considerable effort to assure that children are healthy and are well taken care of. A new study by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) at the University of Manitoba finds that for the most part, these efforts have paid off — kids in Manitoba are generally healthy. Regrettably, there are some whose health falls below the standards we have set for Manitoban children and these children are primarily from low socioeconomic areas.
This study is an updated, expanded version of earlier reports on child health in Manitoba. The report includes dozens of measures of the “healthiness” of kids like how many children are immunized, how many have a certain condition like asthma, or even how many graduate from high school. That last point is usually not thought of as a “health” indicator, but we know that child health goes way beyond just healthcare and into areas like education and social supports.
This particular report also shows how things have changed over time, so policymakers can look at changes provincially and within regions. This is where the latest release of MCHP’s Child Health Atlas plays a vital role.
Dr. Marni Brownell, principal investigator, states “Our report contains measures of child health that can be compared across areas of the province or between income groups. Policymakers have a tool that is capable of not only saying how well kids are doing, but how one area or group differs from another. The measures can be updated regularly, so progress can be easily tracked.”
What did the study find? With over 80 indicators, summarizing this information is no small task. Results echo earlier versions of the atlas. Certainly, the most frequently surfacing issue is that children’s health is very much tied to the average level of wealth of the area in which they live. Very simply, when the population of children is divided into five income levels, each step up the income ladder also raises the level of health.
There are also some “good news” stories like the fact that hospitalizations for injuries are decreasing and high school graduation rates are increasing. Nevertheless, there are also some challenging findings—there are increases in preterm births and diabetes and substantially higher rates of infant mortality in the poorest compared to the wealthiest areas of the province.
“We would like to assume that every child born in Manitoba is given a fair and equal chance at being healthy” says Brownell. “Unfortunately, time and time again, this assumption has been proven wrong. There are clear differences in child health, and these differences usually overlap with where and under what conditions children live.”
This report will provide critical information to planners, so they can in turn look for ways to decrease the gaps across the province.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Marni Brownell at: 705-385-8225
or by email at Marni_Brownell@cpe.umanitoba.ca
or contact the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy at: 204-789-3819
For a copy of the report, contact:
Manitoba Centre for Health Policy at: 204-789-3819
or go online to: