Health improvement functions in national public health agencies
PHE ePoster Library. Lodge H. Sep 12, 2019; 274298; 109
Ms. Heather Lodge
Ms. Heather Lodge
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Abstract
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Abstract Introduction
Public Health England commissioned a review of national public health agencies from the UK Health Forum to inform the structure of health improvement functions.
Methods
The project comprised 1) a literature search and desk research on twelve national public health agencies from within the OECD, with International Association of National Public Health Institutes' (IANPHI) membership and remits for health improvement or health and wellbeing, and 2) interviews with director-generals at six agencies plus IANPHI's Secretariat.
Results
The term “health improvement” is not widely used outside the UK; there appeared to be little literature on structuring health improvement or health and wellbeing functions.Statutory functions varied, creating the risk of inappropriate comparisons. The statutory basis generally appeared prescriptive, committing agencies to delivering specific requirements rather than enabling flexibility to meet broader goals.The agencies' role in co-ordinating cross-government working to tackle the wider determinants of health is increasingly important but underdeveloped.The relationship between a national public health agency and the public health delivery function is often loose and advisory, raising the question of how to incentivise delivery of international commitments that are agreed nationally.Interviewees valued their independence in exploring issues outside political agendas and being able to respond to emerging public health threats.
Conclusions
This review provides international comparisons of health improvement functions for the first time. It highlights the need for greater links between national public health agencies and a role for IANPHI in sharing innovation and best practice. External funding details PHE funded this project.
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