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EACEA National Policies Platform: Youthwiki
Germany

Germany

7. Health and Well-Being

7.8 Current debates and reforms

On this page
  1. Forthcoming policy developments
  2. Ongoing debates

Forthcoming policy developments

In March 2017, the professional association of paediatrics and adolescent medicine (Berufsverband der Kinder- und Jugendärzte Deutschlands e.V., BVKJ), the German Society of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin e.V., DGKJ) and the German Association of Social Pediatrics and Youth Medicine (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sozialpädiatrie und Jugendmedizin e.V., DGSPJ), under the umbrella of the German Academy of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (Deutsche Akademie für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin e.V., DAKJ), adopted a joint position paper entitled Equity in health for children and young people in Germany – action recommendations (Gleiche gesundheitliche Chancen für Kinder und Jugendliche in Deutschland – Handlungsempfehlungen). The paper identifies opportunities to improve the situation of children and young people and their families and recommends specific actions for the next legislative period. It is also supported by the Association of Leading Child and Youth Doctors and Child Surgeons in Germany (Verband leitender Kinder- und Jugendärzte und Kinderchirurgen Deutschlands e.V., VLKKD).

In a recent statement also dated March 2017 on prevention, child protection and the promotion of health among children and young people (Stellungnahme Prävention), the Federal Youth Advisory Board (Bundesjugendkuratorium, BJK) highlights opportunities and limits in prevention. It suggests focussing more on promoting health and well-being. BJK proposes the broad assumption of responsibilities for the interdisciplinary task of ensuring children grow up healthy and safe that are not only restricted to health policy and child and youth services. The BJK statement looks at current laws and concepts designed to promote prevention among children and young people.

In its Situation Report on the situation of refugee children in Germany (Lagebericht zur Situation der Flüchtlingskinder in Deutschland), published on 21 June 2016, UNICEF criticises the situation refugee children are facing in Germany and calls for better care, including health care.

The German Academy of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine (Deutsche Akademie für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin e.V.) wrote an open letter to the delegates of the lower house of the German parliament (Deutscher Bundestag) petitioning and emphasising the appointment of a child welfare officer in the Bundestag (Petition 57180).

The Act to strengthen health promotion and prevention (Gesetz zur Stärkung der Gesundheitsförderung und der Prävention, Präventionsgesetz) came into effect on 25 July 2015. The Act strengthens the promotion of health for children and young people. Steps include the further development of screening for children and young people and better immunisation.

An e-learning foundation programme for medical professionals on child protection (Kinderschutz in der Medizin) has been in development since 1 June 2015. The course aims to provide medical professionals with ongoing, high-quality further training on child protection oriented to everyday practices (target groups: doctors, psychotherapists, child and youth psychotherapists, nurses and caregivers, paediatric nurses and caregivers, physiotherapists, other members of the health professions). Participants are to be given an overview of the current legal situation, changes in the law, and the epidemiology and diagnosis of different types of abuse. The goal is to enable them to recognise signs of sexual abuse and respond appropriately. Project management: Ulm University Hospital of Child and Youth Psychiatry/Psychotherapy (Universitätsklinikum Ulm Klinik für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie). Project term: until 30 June 2018.

Since 1 December 2014, a task force has been drafting a guideline on child abuse and neglect with the help of child and youth services and educators (Kinderschutzleitlinie). Partners from child protection and child and youth services are also involved. The new guideline will give doctors an up-to-date tool kit based on scientific findings. The aim is to support medical decisions on diagnosis, therapy and the use of other measures, including cooperation with other professional groups. The guideline will also cover the interface to collaboration with other professional groups, in particular from the field of child and youth services. Project management: Department of General Paediatrics and Polyclinic (Klinik und Poliklinik für Allgemeine Pädiatrie und Poliklinik) at the Paediatrics Centre (Zentrum für Kinderheilkunde), Bonn University Hospital (Universitätsklinikum Bonn). Project term: until 31 December 2017.

In its recommendations on 'The well-being of young people in schools and non-formal places of learning and education' (Das Wohlbefinden Jugendlicher in Schule und außerschulischen Lern- und Bildungsorten), an expert group from the former Modern Youth Policy Centre (Zentrum Eigenständige Jugendpolitik) (Coordination body for 'Action for a youth-oriented society' since December 2014) asks how the interplay between formal and non-formal places of learning and education can be better oriented to youth well-being. It refers to subjective feelings of confidence and secure future prospects, experiences that allow self-efficacy, the quality of relationships, free spaces and time, freedom of choice and decision-making abilities, and fair access to places of learning and education.

Ongoing debates

Universal free school meals In a motion dated January 2019, the DIE LINKE parliamentary party calls for a “forward-looking and socially sound nutritional policy” for chil-dren. Specifically, the motion calls for free government-funded school meals in all schools and day-care facilities, the quality of which should meet the standards of the German Nutrition Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung). In addition, children and adolescents are to be involved in preparing meals and growing food in school kitchen gardens so they receive hands-on education about food and nutrition. DIE LINKE also want to introduce a mandatory strategy to reduce sugar, unsaturated fatty acids and salt in processed foods to prevent nutritious ingredients being substitut-ed by cheap ingredients and additives and to improve the quality of food. Finally, they are calling for the Federal Government to amend the Food and Feed Code (Lebens- und Futtermittelgesetzbuch, LFGB) to include a ban on food advertising targeted at children as well as a ban on sugary and high-calorie processed food, fast food, sweets, savoury snacks and soft drinks.

Child protection and the health system In March 2019 members of the AfD parliamentary party submitted a parliamentary interpellation concerning child and adolescent victims of abuse or ill treatment. According to the members, the victims ought to receive rapid professional help throughout Germany from child protection clinics and centres of excellence, in line with the services to be implemented in North Rhine-Westphalia from 2019 onwards at the initiative of the state health ministry. Answer of the German federal government

Education campaign for better food In a motion dated May 2019, the FDP parliamentary party called upon the Federal Government to promote more education, exercise and better food. Specifically, they called for an education campaign in daycare centres and schools so children and adolescents can start to learn about food at a young age. The campaign should also include adult education, given that parents lead by example. In addition, the FDP recommends extending the EU’s school fruit, vegetable and milk scheme and increasing its budget.