Publication: The Family Health Cycle : From Concept to Implementation

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Simon, Jonathon
Rosen, Sydney
Claeson, Mariam
Breman, Anna
Tulloch, James
For children in developing countries, health outcomes are determined largely by decisions made within the household, by the family and the mother and father, in particular. From infancy to adulthood, parents provide (or fail to provide) everything from nutrition and shelter to education and health care. The family is also typically the source of care and support for older people, who in turn often contribute to care of children. The authors develop a model for placing public health policies and programs in the context of the family and the outside forces that influence a family's decisions. This life-cycle model, which is called the "family health cycle," connects children, mothers, fathers, and grandparents in a system that, as a whole, shapes the health of individual family members. The model starts with the birth of a child, who passes through the first stage of the cycle as an infant boy or girl, becomes a child, and reaches adolescence. At this stage, the person is biologically "eligible" to pass through another stage of the cycle as a parent, and then, barring early adult mortality or childlessness of the offspring, can cycle through the system once again as a grandparent. Each stage carries with it age- and gender-specific health risks, and thus calls for different health interventions. Interventions at each stage can be viewed as inputs to help the individual survive (and benefit from lower morbidity) until the next stage, when new intervention inputs are required. This framework helps identify which kinds of interventions- biomedical, social, economic, environmental-are likely to be most effective at each stage of the cycle. It thus has the potential to improve understanding of the linkages among the many interventions available and help put scarce public health resources to better use. Finally, the authors review how the family health cycle approach - or the "life-cycle " approach as it is more commonly called in World Bank analysis and operations - has been used for programming and policy development in different contexts beyond maternal and early childhood health: in developing poverty reduction strategies, in conducting risk assessments for social protection initiatives, in linking school health with health and nutrition interventions in other age groups, and in nutrition programming.
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Simon, Jonathon; Rosen, Sydney; Claeson, Mariam; Breman, Anna; Tulloch, James. 2001. The Family Health Cycle : From Concept to Implementation. HNP discussion paper series;. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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