The Socialist Health Association (SHA) notes the public health green paper – Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s, which was published on the 22nd July by the Cabinet Office.

 

We believe that this is a missed opportunity, which ignores much of the evidence on what works best to improve people’s health and wellbeing. Doing something at the level of communities, such as changing an ‘obesogenic’ environment, is more effective and much better value for money, than doing something one by one for individuals..  The paper also largely ignores the impact of poverty and the gross and worsening inequalities in health. At a time when the Government wishes to unite the country, this again betrays its inability to put first the health and wellbeing of all communities.

We support the recognition that health is an asset and a composite health index should be used at Cabinet and across government departments in their planning and investment decisions. We also strongly support the goal of a smoke free country by 2030 but believe that this will need strong regulation and taxation policies. We also support the removal of barriers put in place of water fluoridation, which is an effective way of promoting oral health in children and thus their dentition for life. Finally we support the strengthening of food and drink regulations in respect of salt, sugar and fat content but look to committing to specific measures such as the sugar tax for milky drinks and beverages.

40 years after the Black report on ‘Health Inequalities’ (1980), there is still too little commitment to address poverty. Poverty exacerbated by years of austerity, has resulted in reducing life expectancy and increasing infant mortality. There is no shortage of expert evidence and advice such as the Marmot reports which point to investment in the first 1000 days of life, early years education, the need to have a living wage and a society which enables ageing well. We need to see a strategic commitment by government to abolish child poverty, support parents in the early years and ensure that people have access to jobs that provide a living wage for families.

The Green Paper disappoints too in drawing back from a purposeful commitment to regulate and use taxation to shape the powerful commercial determinants of our health, such as the food and drink market.  We do not see the evidence for change unless linked with regulation (salt), taxation (sugar) and pricing (alcohol unit price). Similarly the rapid growth in gambling driven by advertising on television and social media and enabled by the digital world will require urgent legislation to prevent the growth in harm caused by addiction and consequential debt.

The SHA has recently published our own ‘Prevention and Public Health policy’ endorsed by the Central Council (available at www.sochealth.co.uk), which unlike the government’s Green Paper gives priority to the Climate Emergency and Planetary Health as well as prioritising addressing the social determinants of health.

The Green Paper makes individuals responsible for their own health in a way which will exacerbate the health outcome gap between the rich and poor. There is strong evidence for achieving better health outcomes through implementing interventions on the social, economic and environmental determinants of health and wellbeing. The emphasis on genomics, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) is misplaced in population level prevention policies, although we agree that these areas are exciting and need further research and evaluation

More recent evidence over the past 20 years of the Climate Emergency – the 21st century public health challenge – also needs to be a high priority for prevention and public health.

SHA 26th July 2019.

Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.

One Comment

  1. rotzeichen says:

    Tory philosophy, if you can’t afford to pay then its your own fault so we don’t have to do anything, we just leave it to the market.

    If people need help they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps, just like our Bankers did !!!

    There is only one solution to the crisis deliberately created bt these Tories and their Libdem enablers is to renationalise the NHS and community care, and NO to those that say where is the money coming from, we have all the money we need for public services, 97% of all the money in circulation was issued by the Bank of England as debt, where we issue money as debt we can issue it directly into the economy or for public good.

    People really do need to understand that our government is the issuer of all money, our government therefore is not like a household that has earn money in order to spend, it creates the money that we are taxed on, money comes first then it is taxed back by the government, not the other way around as we are lied to.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 566 other subscribers.

Follow us on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: