Achievements and priorities in public health

This page describes some of the ways public health initiatives have had a positive impact. It also describes some of the continuing public health priorities we face today.

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Achievements

Here's a list of just 10 things that have been achieved in public health in recent decades:

  1. increases in life expectancy
    since 1981, life expectancy for men in England has increased from 70.9 years to 79.4 years and life expectancy for women has increased from 76.9 years to 83.3 years
  2. reported use of drugs, smoking and alcohol
    in 11-15 year-olds, this has roughly halved between 2003 and 2013
  3. reduction in numbers of people smoking
    eg the ban on smoking in public places is estimated to save the NHS over £380 million a year
  4. putting fluoride into drinking water
    eg the fluoridation of drinking water has resulted in reduced tooth decay and tooth loss
  5. safer working conditions
    eg wearing of protective equipment and development of policies and methods has promoted safer working practices and reduced workplace accidents
  6. safe food
    eg setting temperature standards for keeping food safe in supermarkets and food outlets
  7. reduced salt targets in food
    eg in bread, cakes, biscuits, breakfast cereals, snacks, pastries, pasta, rice among others
  8. fewer infectious diseases
    eg typhoid, cholera and tuberculosis (TB)
  9. increased access to family planning services
    so reducing unwanted pregnancies and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases
  10. increased physical activity
    eg after the 2012 London Olympics, there were a record 15.5 million aged 16 or over playing sport at least once a week - that's 750,000 more than the year before and 1.57 million more than when London won the Olympic  bid in 2005!

Priorities

Despite these achievements, we continue to tackle many more public health priorities.

Public health priorities aim to improve health (health improvement), protect health (health protection), or improve public health services (healthcare public health). Take a look at some of the examples below or if you'd like to find out more about public health priorities, please visit the public health matters blog and the UK government website

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