Press Release

Minister launches National Health Promotion Strategy 2000-05

We are smoking and drinking too much – Micheál Martin

Health Promotion Forum to be Established

“As a Nation, we in Ireland are smoking too much and drinking excessively. It seems that the only thing we don’t indulge too much in is the eating of healthy foods. In fact our national diet leaves a lot to be desired. That is why the promotion of healthier lifestyles needs to be pursued with energy and determination ,” said the Minister for Health and Children Mr Micheál Martin T.D. as he launched the National Health Promotion Strategy 2000-2005 in Dublin Castle today, (20th July 2000).

Speaking at the launch he said “the aim of this strategy is to build on earlier work and to give a strategic focus to the further development of health promotion activity in Ireland over the next five years”.

Strategic direction for health promotion

The strategy recognises the need to improve the health and social gain of those who are disadvantaged or from lower socio-economic groups by developing sensitive and appropriate health promotion programmes to meet their needs. Specifically it will:

  • Focus on the link between health promotion and the determinants of health;
  • Provide information and data on socio-economic and environmental factors, lifestyle behaviours and health status;
  • Identify the prerequisites needed at a national and regional level to support and sustain health promotion;
  • Emphasise the role for inter-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approaches in the planning, implementation and evaluation of health promotion initiatives.

“Success cannot be achieved solely by the healthcare sector” the Minister said. “The more comprehensive policy of ‘health proofing’ signalled in this strategy will assist to ensure that the determinants of health which are beyond the immediate responsibility of his Department are considered in terms of their direct and indirect impact on health status. Many of the strategic aims and objectives will require an inter-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach to put the promotion of health on everyone’s agenda.”

The report outlines three major strands for the future development of health promotion

  • the establishment of a new National Health Promotion Forum under the Chairmanship of the Minister.
  • the provision of more comprehensive and reliable data.
  • a need for a greater inter-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approaches

The new National Health Promotion Forum under the Chairmanship of the Minister for Health and Children, will provide an all important platform to tackle, in a meaningful way, inter-sectoral approaches to the major determinants of health which are set out in detail in this strategy.

The strategy recognises that the absence of reliable data has, in the past, limited the possibilities for focussed and targeted action. The SLÁN survey in 1999, which provided baseline data according to age, sex and social class, highlighted social variations in health and lifestyle behaviours between the lower and higher socio-economic groups. The challenge posed by the publication of this new strategy is to narrow this gap. It is apparent from the SLÁN survey that healthier choices are less easy for those in lower socio-economic groups.

The new strategy will inform the future direction and focus for the Department’s Health Promotion Unit and the Health Boards for the next five years. It will also provide a resource and guide for relevant partners, statutory and non-statutory, concerned with promoting positive health in the new millennium.

The Minister concluded “I am delighted to see so many representatives of the different statutory and non-statutory organisations and would encourage you all to embrace this new strategy so that individuals, communities and population groups can have greater opportunities to attain and sustain health in a manner that is compatible with the broadest aspirations for positive health in the 21st Century. We now know that Health promotion has a crucial role to play in realising these aspirations and I am confident that this document will provide the strategic direction necessary to achieve the task”.