Personal Views

We need strong public health leadership

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 01 March 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:685
  1. Sian Griffiths,
  2. Klim McPherson
  1. director of public health and health policy in Oxford
  2. professor of public health epidemiology in London

    Over 13 000 people attended the annual conference of the American Public Health Association last November in New York. Packing into the opening ceremony in the Coliseum, the bleak municipal surroundings buzzed with the theme of “Empowering the Disadvantaged.” We learn of the challenges of social injustice and that young men in Harlem have a life expectancy lower than their counterparts in Bangladesh. Many of the themes resonate with those in British public health. The Guardian had run an article the week before which described public health in Britain as being in crisis–“divided by tribal rivalry, the doctors beleaguered and demoralised, there is no clear voice speaking up for the nation's health,” it had said. Was it any better in the United States?

    From an outsider's perspective it was not just the number of people who had …

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