Our mission states that through our members, activities and co-operation with others, we aim to be a unifying and powerful voice for the public’s health and well being in the UK, focusing on the need to eliminate inequalities in health, promote sustainable development and combat anti-health forces.
Our Core Principles:
- Combating health inequalities - working for a fairer, more equitable and healthier society
- Promoting Sustainable Development - ensuring healthy environments for future generations
- Challenging anti-health forces - promoting health-sustaining production, consumption and employment. Collaborating with businesses to promote socially responsible and healthy products and services
What is Public Health?
“The science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organised efforts of society.” (Sir Donald Acheson 1988)
Different organisations have different definitions of public health. At the UKPHA we believe that public health:
- is an approach that focuses on the health and well being of a society and the most effective means of protecting and improving it
- encompasses the science, art and politics of preventing illness and disease and promoting health and well being
- addresses the root causes of illness and disease, including the interacting social, environmental, biological and psychological dimensions, as well as the provision of effective health services
- addresses inequalities, injustices and denials of human rights, which frequently explain large variations in health locally, nationally and globally.
- works effectively through partnerships that cut across professional and organisational boundaries, and seeks to eliminate avoidable distinctions.
- relies upon evidence, judgement and skills and promotes the participation of the populations who are themselves the subject of policy and action.
Public Health Associations around the world
Many countries around the world have strong public health organisations, like the UKPHA, which provide opportunities for people from all backgrounds to come together under the banner of a public health movement. World Federation of Public Health Associations
The World Federation of Public Health Associations is an international, nongovernmental organisation bringing health workers throughout the world together for professional exchange, collaboration, and action. Its members, currently numbering 70, are multidisciplinary national and regional public health societies whose own memberships include nurses, sanitarians, administrators, physicians, health educators, pharmacists, anthropologists, researchers, and many other persons interested in public health. Founded in 1967, WFPHA is the only worldwide professional society representing and serving the broad field of public health, as distinct from single disciplines or occupations. WFPHA enjoys official relations status with the World Health Organisation and maintains close ties with UNICEF and other international organisations.
The WFPHA website includes an excellent selection of links to websites concerned with global public health
The UKPHA is a member of the World Federation of Public Health Associations, so as a member of the UKPHA you are represented not only within the UK but on a worldwide platform.
The UKPHA aims to become the voice of the public health movement in the UK, with strong European and world-wide links. It has evolved three priorities:
- combating health inequalities
- promoting sustainable health policy
- challenging anti-health forces
Health inequalities are the UK’s most visible public health challenge. The health of people in the more affluent areas of the country is amongst the best in the developed world, but the health of the most disadvantaged groups rivals the worst. Health inequalities in the UK are worst in areas where deprivation is keenest. People living in poorer communities die younger and experience poorer physical and mental health throughout life than those living in more affluent communities. Since the publication of the Black Report “Inequalities in Health” in 1979, which linked poor health to social class, a considerable body of evidence has developed which clearly demonstrates:
- a growing health gap between rich and poor
- poverty causes poor health and poor health causes poverty
- poorer people’s expectations of health are below the better off
- poverty and inequality exists on many dimensions, ranging from experience of crime to a decaying environment
- a widening health gap, like the widening wealth gap, is bad for everyone, promoting insecurity, inefficiency and waste.
The tackling of health inequalities is embedded throughout all the UKPHA’s work.
Sustainable development is intimately linked to public health. The best managed societies promote equitable environmental principles, apply these principles across industry, transport and other sectors, and regularly appraise the impact. Compared to the best practices of some European nations, the UK invests less in sustainable transport, housing, and waste management. We drive too much and walk or cycle too little. We throw too much away and pollute or litter too readily.
The UKPHA argues that public health and sustainable development must be complementary national priorities.
The UK is a world leader in health-degrading production and consumption. Our arms and tobacco industries produce measurable harm here and particularly overseas; our food and drink industries promote unhealthy consumption, frequently aimed at children or the most vulnerable. Our society produces harmful attitudes and beliefs towards people with disabilities or mental health problems.
Challenging harmful production or consumption poses difficult choices. Such industries provide employment, sponsor the arts, and influence public opinion. Efforts to control them are portrayed as an attack on freedom of choice.
The UKPHA will promote health-sustaining production, consumption and employment. It will collaborate with business to promote socially responsible and healthy products.