08:44pm Monday 06 July 2020

Being empowered to improve your health can reduce inequalities

Being empowered to improve your health can reduce inequalities

Being empowered to improve your health now can give you a better quality of life as you get older. That’s the message from the Public Health Agency’s (PHA) sixth annual Director of Public Health report.

The theme of the report is ‘Making Life Better – Improving Health and Care for Adults’ and it highlights how empowering adults to take control of their wellbeing can reduce health inequalities in our society.

Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health at the PHA, said: “Society, health and healthcare have developed enormously in recent decades. However, the health and wellbeing enjoyed by some is not enjoyed by all, or even by a majority of the population. Inequalities are a key challenge for our society and there is evidence that the bigger the gap between the most and least deprived, the worse the health of the population as a whole. Inequalities are therefore everyone’s concern.

“Every journey is different but all should have the opportunity for positive and healthy experiences. Prevention is a key goal in public health and helps adults manage their own health and avoid the need for hospital and other health services.

“Adults from all backgrounds should be empowered to make positive choices for themselves and their families that will have positive impacts on their health for years ahead.”

Adults aged between 18 and 64 make up approximately 61% of Northern Ireland’s population. Healthy adults will be healthier older people and at a time when life expectancy is increasing and our population is ageing, it is essential that people are supported to enjoy as many of their increased years as possible in good health.

Dr Harper continued: “Adults are a vital asset to the population and at a time of economic uncertainty, amid increased recognition of the importance of early years for children and the opportunities and challenges of the increasing population of older people, adults risk being somewhat overlooked.

“This report outlines some of the key programmes and services that work to ensure the adult population of Northern Ireland is as healthy as possible.”

The report looks at the overall condition of the public’s health and how lifestyle choices can impact on the long-term wellbeing of each individual. It highlights important programmes that are in place to improve levels of physical activity and tackle obesity; promote social inclusion; improve health and wellbeing in the workplace; address food inequality; advance mental health and wellbeing; ensure early detection through screening; show research’s impact on health improvement; and help protect the population from diseases and outbreaks.

The full Director of Public Health report can be found here.


Notes for editors

  • Adults aged between 18–64 years make up approximately 61% of Northern Ireland’s population with slightly more females than males (50.6% and 49.4%)
  • The PHA works with partner organisations and the public to raise awareness of health problems and healthy behaviours, support interventions and services that enable people to make these choices, and change behaviour and teach new skills.
  • For those who do face health problems, the PHA works alongside other organisations to develop high quality services that meet patients’ expectations and needs.
  • Screening services aim to detect disease early to improve outcomes, and the PHA has a lead role in ensuring these programmes are of high quality. 

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