Public Health Framework Unveiled

Health Minister, Edwin Poots has launched a strategic framework for public health in Northern Ireland.

Endorsed by the World Health Organisation, this 10 year strategy – ‘Making Life Better’ – will aim to improve health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities through new structures and actions that have been agreed by the Northern Ireland Executive.

The Minister said; “It is clear that many inequalities in health arise because of inequalities in society and the conditions of daily life. Good health is not evenly distributed – some vulnerable groups and communities, including those living in deprived areas, continue to face worse health outcomes than the Northern Ireland average

“While we are living longer than previous generations, and are keeping healthy and active for longer we also know that we continue to face real challenges.

“With a growing and ageing population, the prospect that many more people may live longer with chronic conditions leads to ever-increasing demands on our health and social care system.

“It is therefore vitally important for the future sustainability of not only our health care system but for our vision of a vibrant, flourishing society that we rise to these health challenges. But the health service alone cannot address this.”

The framework sets out implementation and governance arrangements that will ensure a strong strategic lead at Ministerial level and secure a joined up approach across Departments.

A Regional Project Board led by Public Health Agency will drive delivery at regional level in collaboration with other key stakeholders, including local government and the community and voluntary sector Partnerships at local level will focus on local need and will align with the new local government community planning arrangements over time

The Minister continued saying; “We want to reinvigorate action to achieve better health and wellbeing for everyone and to reduce inequalities in health, and this framework provides the steer for this to happen. It has been informed by a number of key reports and bodies of evidence and developed through cross –departmental and cross-sectoral engagement.

“The Programme for Government acknowledges the relationship between health, disadvantage, inequality, the social and physical environment and longer term economic growth. Making Life Better will help address these issues and is therefore a building block towards the achievement of a healthier more prosperous society.

“However, action at government level will not accomplish this on its own. It will require strengthened collaboration and partnership working at all levels of society to address the issues influencing the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities, and to empower people to make informed decisions about their own health.”

Endorsement from colleagues in the World Health Organisation has confirmed the frameworks alignment with Health 2020.

Dr Agis Tsouros, Director, WHO Division of Policy and Governance for Health and Well-being said; “We would like to commend the authors of the document for their work, both in terms of the participatory process for developing it, and for the comprehensive nature of its contents. Indeed, this constitutes a very good example of how principles and approaches of Health 2020 can be successfully incorporated in national strategies.

“There is a strong focus within this framework on the importance of empowering individuals, communities and partner organizations. It addresses health inequalities by supporting people to lead healthy lives and providing equal opportunities to healthy choices for all. This strategy addresses all the major challenges of public health and proposes innovative perspectives, such as the mapping of individual and community assets and the proactive attitude needed by all members of society in making their life and health better.”

Click here to view the Making Life Better

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