Public Health in All Policies – Integral to Sustainable Development
Public health outcomes are influenced by a multitude of factors that affect health outcomes and impact housing, social protection, industry, international relations, governance, diplomacy and trade. This has been evident and visible throughout the pandemic that has challenged our times. The circumstances in which communities thrive, people grow, work and age, the systems that define their existence and especially their sustainability in terms of policies, norms, cultures and political processes affect civilians to a large extent.
The environment in which we live, faced with extreme weather events, natural disasters, pollution, food insecurity, requires a thorough assessment of the functioning and understanding of patterns over time, the response society, economic proliferation, the grip and resilience that comes with it and the capacity in which governments can truly mature to realize that if we choose a sustainable future, that future must include a comprehensive public health approach to leaving no one behind in the truest sense of the word.
Integrate public health into government policies
Covid-19 has shown how quickly health systems break down and are often unable to handle the surge. Low- and middle-income countries face a triple disease burden from infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, emerging and re-emerging diseases, and disasters that deepen inequalities and also drive up health care costs.
Families today face early-stage illnesses that historically have been known to arrive later in life and trends are emerging such that this century could also be the first generation to have a life expectancy. shorter life than that of their parents.
Human life shouldn’t be reduced to big data and we should keep emotion in mind when designing policies. It is now well known that the environments in which people thrive have a huge influence on their health outcomes.
Directly and indirectly, responsibility for social health outcomes rests with many non-health partners such as employment, energy and safety agencies, the department of transport, housing, social welfare, the education, law and justice and environmental departments. We have uncoordinated hierarchical ministries in most parts of the world, which must come together for a common goal called civilization and humanity. Health in All Policies was described in the World Health Organization’s Adelaide Declaration as helping leaders integrate health policies and services. Over the years, the declaration has become more historic and representative without any real-world implementation to build a better future.
Create risk-informed and socially protective public policies
Our world faces cascading risks from natural disasters, climate change and public health consequences that emerge through endemics, pandemics and existing disease threats. The cascading risk that hits a region creates a watershed moment for development. As we chart the way forward for global public health, it becomes imperative for all countries to adapt risk-informed policies that consider social protection and have health components covered in every department with guidelines and specific roles defined for all stakeholders to engage in .
Create ministries of public health at national and subnational levels
In many countries, Ministries of Health work with fixed mandates on curative health outcomes and often have no budgets at all, lack guidance and strategies for preventive health, and lack preventive health at the local level. Reversing this trend and integrating health as an agenda for all policies will require a dedicated public health ministry to advocate for social health policies that work for people. The penetration of public health at national and sub-national levels requires a risk-based planning approach that integrates social policy deeply integrated with the cooperation of line ministries and the integration of civil society at the heart of social progress.
Consider health attachés for international cooperation and diplomacy
The Ministries of External Affairs of each country should appoint health attachés in their missions abroad and provide honorary consul ranks to establish bilateral mandates on comprehensive global health objectives taking into account regional cooperation and the interests of national security. Diplomacy can never be the traditional kind of careful diplomacy that was the norm in the past, today diplomacy is a craft that must have humanitarian components, must adapt to changing times that put people at the heart of the shared progress and also make global health a concept to be implemented in everyday diplomacy.
The success of public health in all politics will depend on the sincerity with which governments and actors rise up to fulfill their duty as children of this universe and men and women of honor.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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