Scottish white paper aims to tackle health divideBMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7183.557a (Published 27 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:557
A sustained attack on inequality, social exclusion, and poverty is promised in a government white paper on public health in Scotland which identifies these factors as the root causes of much of the country's ill health.
Although there have been improvements in recent years, Scotland still has some of the highest rates of disease in the developed world. The report sets out a strategy for tackling the problem, which is based as much on investment in housing, education, and employment opportunities as it is on health related services.
Sam Galbraith, the Scottish health minister, said that he hoped the programme would have the same positive impact on health in the 21st century as improving public sanitation and slum housing did at the beginning of the 20th century.
Particular initiatives are directed at improving the detection and prevention of disease. A total of =A315m is to be spent on four “demonstration” projects which will aim to reduce premature deaths from cancer, cut deaths from heart disease, improve child health, and reduce teenage pregnancies.
New targets have been set to reduce the number of adults dying from heart disease by 50%by the year 2010 and cancer deaths among those aged under 75 by 20
A pilot project will examine the feasibility of introducing a national screening programme for colorectal cancer, and smokers are to be helped to give up the habit at specialist clinics.
An additional =A334.5m is to be spent on establishing a network of healthy living centres, and a task force is to be set up to develop a national physical activity strategy. Funding is also to be increased for initiatives to improve diet, and support is given in the white paper for the fluoridation of drinking water.
“Towards a Healther Scotland” is available from The Stationery Office, price =A36. ISBN 0-10-142692-5.