Sick City: Child poverty

6 October 2010

 End Child Poverty Rally by Need NOT Greed on Flickr
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End Child Poverty Rally by Need NOT Greed on Flickr

Tomorrow night, Wellcome Collection presents Sick City, a balloon debate in which the audience decides public health priorities for London. Four speakers each propose a problem which they think demands our resources and attention. This week on the Wellcome Collection blog, we present a brief introduction to each speaker’s priority. Join the debate using the comments below, or come to the event to help make the decision.

Dr Bobbie Jacobson will put the case for child poverty as London’s most urgent health challenge.

Why is reducing childhood poverty in the capital more important than any other single health issue? It is not simply because London has the worst record of child poverty in England and in Europe. Poor children and families lead to sick adults and ill health in old age. Tackling poverty is the most effective preventive medicine we have.

Can we really beat child poverty? Yes! By the collective commitment of all London’s employers – public and private – to pay the London Living Wage.  Londoners know it costs more to live well, eat well and stay well in the capital, which is why the London Living Wage is higher than the minimum wage.

At present, the majority of businesses are promoting ill health by underpaying their lowest paid staff. This has to stop if we want to see London’s children grow up with equal opportunities for good health.

Dr Bobbie Jacobson has spent over three decades contributing to public health and health policy nationally, internationally and locally-initially. She is Director of the London Health Observatory (LHO) and Vice Chair of the Association of Public Health Observatories (APHO) of the UK and Ireland. She has spearheaded LHO’s lead national work on tobacco and tackling social & ethnic inequalities in health.