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September 19, 2023
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ADPH calls for historic cross-party consensus to improve public health

Currently, there is a gap of over ten years between men and women’s healthy life expectancy in the least healthy local authorities, compared to the most healthy. That is unacceptable.

Greg Fell
ADPH Vice President

Today, we are calling on all political parties to put public health at the heart of the upcoming general election in order to prevent the growing number of people living with – and dying from – preventable illness.

In a document published today, the Association of Directors of Public Health (ADPH) have outlined how their Manifesto for a Healthier Nation could be implemented, stressing the need for a change in how politicians develop and deliver policy.

One recommendation is for a new all-encompassing Public Health Act to consolidate the various disparate pieces of legislation addressing public health that have been developed over the last 175 years. Such an Act should be a priority for the new Government and would demonstrate their commitment to improve and protect public health.

ADPH, which represents the views of Directors of Public Health from across the British Isles and British Oversees Territories, have also urged politicians to introduce a dedicated health inequalities strategy that uses local expertise and knowledge to improve outcomes.

Greg Fell, ADPH Vice President, said:

“Currently, there is a gap of over ten years between men and women’s healthy life expectancy in the least healthy local authorities, compared to the most healthy. That is unacceptable. We need a major re-think in how we plan for public health at every level, to ensure that all the determinants of someone’s health are being considered together.

“Where someone lives, what job they have, their education, their access to healthy food and green spaces, the build quality of their house – all these things have an impact. Only by working together, across political and geographical divides can we effectively tackle these interconnected factors that cause such inequity.”

ADPH’s ‘Manifesto for a Healthier Nation: Delivering Change’, also sets out conditions for a new Child Poverty Act, calling for a commitment to ending child poverty in all parts of the UK by 2030.

Fell continued:

“We have to break the current cycle whereby if you are born into poverty, you are more likely to continue to be disadvantaged, have poorer outcomes as a result and have children who face the same situation.

“A shift towards early intervention and preventing poverty is needed to support children and young people to lead healthy and fulfilling lives and prevent ill health in later life. Again, this comes back to ensuring that health is placed at the heart of all our decisions – and that is the case for individuals, communities, local authorities and national Government.

ADPH are also calling on the next Government to tackle the commercial determinants of health by ensuring that policies act on the harm caused by products like tobacco, alcohol and fast food – all factors that contribute to preventable ill-health and further exacerbate health inequalities. This could include policies such as extending smoke-free legislation, introducing Minimum Unit Pricing, and acting to curb junk food marketing.

Fell, who is also the Director of Public Health for Sheffield, explained:

“It is absolutely critical that the next Government gets this right. Of course, we, as individuals, need to make healthy choices, but we need to have the freedom to make those choices and that means having policies in place that create a society where being healthy is the norm. For that to happen, the political parties need to work together, draw from local expertise, and really commit to making the UK a healthier place to live.”

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