Spreading the public health bug
8 May 2007
Collective action and the involvement of ordinary people is the key to better public health, a leading University of Sydney academic will tell a public lecture tomorrow night.
Professor Stephen Leeder, Director of the Australian Health Policy Institute, says "agencies and interest groups in society, rather than governments, lead the way to necessary social change to achieve development goals.
"These civil society organisations may include patient groups, the private sector, medical associations, labour unions, and various lobbies. Their role is to put particular issues on the public agenda and to organise responses, working with governments and other agencies, that address problems over time, on the ground."
Delivering the second RIHSS Key Directions Public Lecture on major public policy issues, Professor Leeder will also argue that ecological and resource sustainability and the pressures of economic development will become even more important to public health over the next fifty years.
He says we can expect "a raft of unsolved problems, including global warming, ocean acidification, depletion of the oceans, loss of species, and the continuing rise of illnesses that derive from the animal world as the human population expands and the temperature rises.
"Fortunately, the things we need to do are largely known. They depend upon open access, social action, political commitment, leadership and patience.
"The challenge to all with an interest in public health is to make sure that history records that, having perceived this problem, our generation moved to deal with it. For that to occur, society - the public - needs to be more closely involved with the public health agenda and politically supportive of it."
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