Editorials

Our healthier nation

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7130.487 (Published 14 February 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:487

Can be achieved if the demands allow it

  1. John Gabbay (jg3@soton.ac.uk), Professor of public health medicinea
  1. a Wessex Institute for Health Research and Development, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 7PX

    At last we have a national public health policy firmly based on the glaring evidence that health depends on social, economic, and environmental policies as well as on individual lifestyles and health services. The government's green paper, Our Healthier Nation1 sets out the case for concerted action to tackle not just the causes of disease but the causes of the causes: poverty, inequalities, social exclusion, unemployment, and all the other features of the physical and social environment that converge to undermine health.2 “Connected problems,” the paper tells us, “require joined-up solutions.” The joining up is to be done via a three way “contract” between central government, local services, and the individual, where each will agree to play its part in improving the country's health while reducing health inequalities.

    Thus, under the Minister for Public Health, government bodies in all sectors are to be driven towards policies that help improve health. Partnerships between health and local authorities will solve local problems, each partner committing themselves to appropriate targets. The public are to be given more help and information, especially in schools, workplaces, and …

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