Health promotion must increase to improve health of all in future – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin TD and Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has called for clear targets and goals along with adequate funding for Healthy Ireland, the Government’s public health policy, to ensure that all are encouraged to achieve as high a level of health and wellbeing as possible.
Deputy Ó Caoláin stated:
“The Government policy of Healthy Ireland is an interdepartmental initiative to promote public health and is largely very positive. It aims to fulfil the World Health Organization Europe’s Health 2020 policy to improve the health and wellbeing of citizens. In recent days, I have assessed proposals of the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland and the Irish Food Writers’ Guild on matters relating to preventative public health.
“By some predictions, Ireland is to become the state with the highest level of obesity in Europe by 2030. Despite the fact that Healthy Ireland was launched in 2013, we do not yet see enough progress. I am convinced that Ireland must do more to affect significant change and we should do it now.
“The vision of a Healthy Ireland, where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health and wellbeing to their full potential, is a great one. The goals of the framework are certainly something we support and include increasing the proportion of people who are healthy at all stages of life and reducing health inequalities. However, clear and unambiguous targets are needed and a budget to back them up.
“The sections in the framework on so-called reform are not something that we can support. They are based on Universal Health Insurance and this is something that we do not support, indeed the Government itself is not entirely clear on where they stand on it. Minister Varadkar now has his own definition of UHI which is more limited than the former Minister’s.
“We also need to see the implementation of the framework address the root cause of so much inequality, Government policy. Poverty proofing of legislation must be introduced across the board and would itself go some way to addressing geographical and income-based inequalities.
“The Government are presiding over a system where life expectancy is much lower in the most deprived geographical areas, where for men it is 73.7 years compared to 78 years in the most affluent areas. We must reduce this gap. This will require a redistribution of resources and further investment in primary care. For this framework to function, this must happen urgently.”