The report explores changes in public health priorities over the past 70 years.
The new Director of Public Health Annual Report which is published by Plymouth City Council today (Tuesday 9 August) looks at the changes in health in Plymouth over the past 70 years.
The report from Professor Kelechi Nnoaham is based roughly around the themes of the five ‘giant evils’ identified by Sir William Beveridge in 1942 – Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness – and the progress that has been made on addressing these issues up to the present day. It reflects on key challenges and opportunities for the future. The five ‘evils’ are updated and referred to in the report as:
- Health and wellbeing
- Housing and the environment
- Education and qualifications
- Employment and the economy,
- Poverty, deprivation and inequalities.
This comprehensive report examines how a range of factors – housing, transport, unemployment, education, planning, general infrastructure and individual lifestyle choices – can affect the health of both individuals and the city as a whole. Its recommendations offer a view on how we might mitigate poverty, improve health and reduce health inequalities.
One of the key messages from the report is that whilst Plymouth has prospered over recent years, the distribution of benefit from this prosperity has perhaps not been in accordance with need amongst people living in the city.There are still large inequalities in educational outcomes, employment, housing and health.
Professor Kelechi Nnoaham, Director of Public Health for Plymouth City Council, said: “The aim of our report is to identify the root causes of poverty in Plymouth and how these have changed over time, so that we can strengthen the evidence base for what we are currently doing to improve health, and also provide insight on new approaches to tackling health inequalities.
“As a growing city we must take care to avoid systematically leaving behind some members of our population in terms of the benefits of growth. Our award winning Plymouth Plan evidences our intention to take a smart approach to growth to ensure that the city’s physical, social and economic infrastructure enables people to be healthier. Delivering this aspiration in collaboration with local communities is crucial.
“Although the past few decades have seen change from the significant impact of communicable diseases – such as Tuberculosis and Scarlet Fever – to a greater relative burden of non-communicable diseases related to people’s lifestyle choices, the report warns against complacency given the rise of antimicrobial resistance and the impact of globalisation.
“Our Thrive Plymouth approach – based on our ‘4-4-54’ construct – acknowledges that there are four behaviours – smoking, excessive drinking, poor diet and lack of exercise – that together contribute to four chronic diseases – cancer, heart disease, stroke and respiratory disease – which account for 54% of deaths in Plymouth. So we are prioritising these and working with schools and employers in the city to provide support to individuals and communities to create the conditions or healthier healthier choices.
“I hope you find the report informative and interesting and that it provides motivation and guidance for us to act collectively on the issues surrounding poverty and health.”
Recommendations in the report include:
- Health and wellbeing – Focus on creating environments that make the healthier choice the easier choice for people through the Thrive Plymouth programme.
- Housing and the environment – Urgently prioritise action on housing quality, especially in the private rental sector.
- Education and qualifications – Improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged children in Plymouth to give them a better start in life.
- Employment and the economy – Understand the impact of welfare reforms and take measures to remove barriers to returning to work for those transitioning back into employment.
- Poverty, deprivation and inequalities – Tackling poverty and breaking its link with poor health and wellbeing by enabling individuals to acquire skills and qualifications, access paid employment, and live in housing with acceptable standards of habitability.