Review of national public health strategies

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HIQA has published a review of national public health strategies in selected countries. The findings of this report will support the work of the Department of Health in developing a national public health strategy in Ireland. National public health strategies were identified for Australia, Austria, Canada, England, Finland, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Sweden and Wales.

HIQA described the strategies, comparing their aims, themes and priorities. While the overall aim of these strategies was to improve the health and well-being of citizens, secondary aims focused on health inequities and inequalities, monitoring emerging threats, and sustainable health. All of the included strategies went further than focusing on just health, with many directly aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Most countries prioritised promoting healthy living or behaviours, strengthening public health, climate change or environment, and equity or equality.

The review also describes how countries develop their national public health strategies. HIQA found that all national public health strategies were developed based on evidence and engagement with stakeholders, including the public, experts, and representatives from governmental and non-governmental organisations at local, regional and national levels.

Michelle O’Neill, Deputy Director of Health Technology Assessment, said: “A country’s national public health strategy helps define their vision for improving population health. It can provide a framework for tackling complex health issues nationally, acting as a foundation for health policies to build upon. This review aimed to identify the issues of importance, the actions undertaken and how strategies are developed internationally. This will support the development of a national public health strategy in Ireland, as recommended by the Public Health Reform Expert Advisory Group.”

The full review can be found at at www.hiqa.ie