When reduced public spending kicks in to combat the debt that’s piling up as a direct consequence of the credit crunch, let’s make sure that it does not hit public health. Public Health would be an easy target for public spending cuts. It deals with prevention rather than cure and because the value it adds is for the longer term, it is not exactly a vote winner but it does underlie the demands made on all aspects of our healthcare services. Investment in effective public health more than pays its own way in the long run.
Public Health has badly failed us in some areas and needs to work harder. Walk down our high streets during the day to see the disturbing proportion of obese people in our population or be brave enough to venture down those same streets at night to experience the alarming incidence of binge drinking. Sensible balances of diet, exercise and alcohol consumption have all too often gone out of the window. How surprising is that after cooking skills were taken off the curriculum, playing fields sold up to be replaced by housing estates without recreational areas and healthy school meals replaced by a big Mac and chips? Bad decisions for short term gain by popularist public servants and a compliant, sometimes greedy and complacent society have a lot to answer for.
The habits of healthy living need to be learnt at an early age and carried forward for life. This includes taking on responsibility for looking after our own health. How many of today’s ageing society do hear about owning a plan to ensure their fitness? Not many. But those that do will minimise the demands they will make on the NHS? All should be encouraged to do so.
Public Health & Personal Health Links
NHS Choices – Tools – well worth a look
The Royal Society for Public Health
Health at a Glance 2009 OECD Key Indicators