September 2003, VOLUME112 /ISSUE Supplement 3

Session 3 Introduction: Health Policy in Relation to Improving Equity

  1. Jo Sibert, MD,
  2. Susan Aronson, MD, FAAP

Session Chair: Jo Sibert, MD

Speakers: Catherine Law, MD, FRCPCH, FRCP, FFPHM, David Gordon, PhD, and Peter C. van Dyck, MD, MPH, FAAP

We will be addressing health policy issues in this session and move beyond the discussion of medical care to think about health. We need a broad view of health that covers social and emotional as well as physical health. In terms of health policy, we will need to be thinking broadly as well.

The loci of child health activities will be an important part of our discussion. What are the points of access for families to health care? In addition to the home and the clinic, we have child care settings, places where very young children in families have encounters either daily or several times a week. Let us also not forget the spiritual points of access, which for many families are among the most important places they come to be connected with others they trust and who care about them.

If we agree that prevention is a priority in pediatrics, then our health policies must address prevention at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. If we further agree that younger is better, earlier is best, and sooner is better than later, then our discussion of health policy must consider what is the most efficient and effective way to mobilize prevention initiatives.

The articles in this session will address these and other issues. Catherine Law, MD, FRCPCH, FRCP, FFPHM, will describe UK government health policy in relation to inequalities in child health from the perspective of a research epidemiologist, analyzing in particular the extent to which this policy is evidence based. David Gordon, PhD, will discuss the extent to which health policy can reduce the gap in health between rich and poor. Peter C. van Dyck, MD, MPH, FAAP, will describe the US Maternal and Child Health Bureau and its approach to dealing with health disparities and inequities in the United States.