Editorials

Countering child poverty

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7295.1137 (Published 12 May 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1137

A huge problem that is not easily resolved

  1. Richard Smith, editor
  1. BMJ

    Britain has three million children living in poverty, a higher proportion of the population than any other developed country apart from the United States. When the present government came to power it was four million. The government has committed itself to eradicating child poverty,1 but a recent conference organised by the National Children's Bureau, the Academy of Royal Colleges, and the BMJ heard just how hard that target will be to achieve.

    BMJ readers know that poverty has a profound effect on health and that the damage lasts throughout the child's life and passes on to subsequent generations. This deep rootedness of the problem is one reason why it's so hard to tackle. Iona Heath, an inner city general practitioner and former chair of the Intercollegiate Forum on Poverty and Health, defined poverty as “attrition of hope and opportunity.” This attrition leads to insecurity and a low level of control and self esteem, …

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