22 Feb 2012
On 17 November 2011, the First Minister and deputy First Minister published the draft Programme for Government 2011-2015 for consultation.
IPH recognise that health is influenced by a wide range of social determinants, including economic, biological, environmental and cultural factors such as housing, the environment, income, employment and access to education and health services . Improvements to health can be achieved through a well-designed PfG which addresses the economy, creates safer communities and delivers efficient public services. IPH welcome this opportunity to submit our views to the Northern Ireland Executive on the Draft Programme for Government 2011-15.
Key points from the IPH response include:
• Northern Ireland has a poor population health status in key areas when compared to other regions in the United Kingdom and in the Republic of Ireland. IPH support and particularly welcome allocation of an increased proportion of the Northern Ireland budget to public health.
• IPH endorses the perspective in the PfG that good population health makes a central contribution to economic and social development. However we would welcome greater acknowledgement of the links between social deprivation and health outcomes.
• IPH welcomes the adoption of a social determinants of health approach to improving population health and tackling health inequalities which is in line with current health policy and recent policy developments across the United Kingdom and internationally (See report of the Commission on the Social Determinants of Health (CSDH))
• In particular IPH welcomes the recognition given to the important contribution that tackling issues such as child poverty, fuel poverty and low literacy makes to creating more equal opportunities for health and wellbeing.
• Tackling major public health challenges such as halting rising obesity and addressing health inequalities can only be achieved through cross-departmental and cross-sectoral working. A more structured approach to support cross-sectoral and interdepartmental working between the relevant agencies and sectors will ensure better results for the current Executive.
• The PfG would be enhanced by the integration of a small number of high level statements regarding the improvement of population health to complement the listing of regional health policies and strategies. The improvement of population health should be placed on an equal par with high level commitments in respect of the economy, social and infrastructural development.