The current approach to public health needs a radical rethink to address the health challenges of the next 25 years, according to the Academy of Medical Sciences.
In a report published today the academy said not enough was known about how environmental factors combine to determine the health of populations, and called for more co-operation across different disciplines and areas of expertise. It also called for health to be put at the heart of all government departments, not just the Department of Health.
Professor Dame Anne Johnson, academy fellow and chair of the working group that produced the report, said: “Public health measures such as smoke-free and clean air legislation, safer food and workplaces, and vaccination have resulted in major advances in the health of the public. However society is evolving rapidly and new challenges are emerging that require a change in our understanding of public health.
“We need a public health system, and the research to support it, that takes account of the wide range of interacting factors that affect health to develop effective prevention measures that result in a healthier, fairer future for all.”
The academy, with the support of medical research charity Wellcome, has launched a £1m funding programme to enable researchers in the social sciences and medical humanities to address issues raised in the report by increasing understanding of the social, behavioural, political and cultural issues that contribute to health inequalities.