Saturday, 27 July 2013

Public health? Focus on the real problem please....


The Association of Directors of Public Health (let's call them Nannying Fussbucket Central) has issued a grumpy statement explaining why they threw all their toys out of the pram and are screaming their toddler heads off. It includes this comment:

"Both standardised packaging and minimum unit pricing (MUP) are evidence -based interventions..."

The sole evidence (or should I say computer model) supporting MUP is rapidly unravelling (and alcohol consumption especially amongst the young continues to fall) and there is no evidence at all supporting the theory that shiny packs make children more likely to take up smoking other than the reasonable observation that we'll pick a colour over a plain pack when given that choice.

More to the point - the public health point that is - while the nannying fussbuckets are doing this:

These measures will primarily protect the future health of children...

The real public health problem is out there - and the public health people don't know why it's happening:

Around 600 more people – mainly elderly – have died every week so far this year compared with the average for the last five years, official figures show.

Since early 2012 there have been 23,400 more deaths than would have been expected in England and Wales.

This could be related to a series of bad winters, it could be the reductions in adult social care provision and it could be because public health's obsession with drinking in recent years has meant we've simply switched attention from the real health problems in society.

So perhaps, instead of throwing tantrums about government policy choices, these great public health brains might care to focus on the real problem?


No comments: