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PHAC report: health should be everyone's business

MEDIA RELEASE

7 July 2006

PHAC report says health should be everyone’s business

Many of the strongest influences on health and wellbeing come from outside the health sector so effective action to sustain and improve the population’s health is the responsibility of all sectors, such as housing, transport, social development and local government.

A new report from the Public Health Advisory Committee (PHAC) challenges those working inside and outside the health sector to develop fresh approaches to sustaining and improving health and wellbeing.

In its report to the Minister of Health, Health is Everyone’s Business, the PHAC says collaborative action is needed if health is to be improved. Public health practitioners and agencies are well placed to lead or support such an approach but the success will depend on other stakeholders accepting their share of responsibility.

PHAC Chair, Geoff Fougere says that people’s access to good housing, education and employment are among the important factors involved in determining health.

The report says emerging epidemics such as diabetes, or potential ones such as avian influenza, have drawn new attention to both the importance and the real limits of curative approaches. “These threats to health are already spurring innovative, collaborative, ‘whole of government’ approaches to prevention, approaches that also include the private sector and non governmental organisations” says Geoff Fougere.

Significant new opportunities exist for the development of strong collaborative approaches to public health action. There is a growing emphasis on a ‘whole of government’ approach to problems, local government has wider responsibility for community ‘wellbeing’ and District Health Board and Primary Health organisations have new responsibilities for the health of the populations they serve.

The PHAC report explores the opportunities and challenges for building a collaborative approach to public health. It recommends the Minister of Health endorse a series of approaches designed to improve health and wellbeing and reduce health disparities. These include improved information sharing, greater Māori involvement and more flexible funding arrangements that facilitate work across sectors.

The PHAC is a sub-committee of the National Health Committee. It provides the Minister of Health with independent advice on public health issues


ENDS

The full report is available on the website http://www.nhc.govt.nz/phac/phac_pubs.htm and in hard copy from 18 July.

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