As levels of disease during the 20th Century increased, public health policies were introduced, and over the years have been instrumental in increasing the average life expectancy by 70%. Much of this was achieved through mandatory intervention such as sanitation, compulsory vaccination programmes, and pasteurisation, for example.
Today we are faced with issues such as smoking related illnesses, obesity, alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancies, and illegal drug use, to name just a few.
But how much should future public health policy be pursued by legislation, – for example, the implementation of the smoking ban in public places and fluoridation of water supply? Or should education be the pathway to encourage positive lifestyle choices? How will research influence future political policy and resulting strategy?
Whilst a ‘nanny state’ is more often than not rejected and freedom of choice preferred, the demands for government to tackle antisocial youth behaviour due to alcohol abuse, for example, are loudly voiced. With a wave of contentious proposals being suggested, such as a ban on smoking in individuals’ own vehicles, no fast food outlets to operate in the vicinity of schools and more constraints on marketing to children, there are many points for discussion and deliberation.
The unprecedented national deficit will stimulate a review on how best to achieve public health targets. Utilisation of existing resources is an area where much progress could be made. Existing facilities and infrastructure can be developed and marketed with the aid of private sector partners to offer greater opportunities to the community.
Much work is being undertaken to eradicate inequalities in health across the social divides. The more disadvantaged in the population are more likely to suffer health problems, with life expectancy in the wealthiest areas being several years higher than the poorest areas. How will the ongoing strategy in tackling wealth inequalities to provide a ‘Fair Society, Healthy Lives’ be maintained?
Can collaborative working be the model to sustain prevention along with health promotion, and how can we quantify the cost-effectiveness of producing a healthier nation?
At Public Health: Promoting Health and the Challenges Ahead, expert speakers will discuss the delivery of public health initiatives and their impact on the the population. Analysis of the strategies most likely to produce the desired results will be explored, culminating in a panel debate where, undoubtedly, opposing views will be voiced.