The remit of the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) is to promote cooperation for public health between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the areas of research and information, capacity building and policy advice. Our approach is to support Departments of Health and their agencies in both jurisdictions, and maximise the benefits of all-island cooperation to achieve practical benefits for people in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
IPH welcome the opportunity to respond to the consultation on the Department for Regional Development, Regional Development Strategy (RDS). It is well recognised that the spatial planning of human urban activity impacts on quality of life, health and wellbeing. IPH has been working in this area for a number of years and has developed extensive expertise1, 2.
• There is growing recognition that the leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, cancer, respiratory diseases and injuries, may be exacerbated by elements within the built environment which contribute to sedentary lifestyles and harmful environments. IPH call for greater recognition of the links between regional development and health.
• Health inequalities are the preventable and unjust differences in health status experienced by certain population groups. The RDS has a role to play in tackling health inequalities experienced in Northern Ireland.
• Supporting a modal shift in transport methods can lead to improved health and reduced health inequalities.
• The RDS plays an important role in addressing climate change which is identified as a major public health concern for the 21st Century. Creating healthy sustainable places and communities can go hand in hand with reducing the negative impacts of climate change.
• IPH recognise the RDS is an overarching strategic framework which will be implemented by a range of other agencies. To fully appreciate the potential health impacts of the RDS, IPH call for a Health Impact Assessment to be undertaken to fully determine the links with health and potential impact on health inequalities particularly in relation to the implementation strategy.