Lancaster University

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Institute chosen to join pioneering public health network

07/14/2004 16:15:08

Lancaster University’s Institute for Health Research has been chosen to be one of nine pioneering centres across England aimed at improving public health practice. The Lancaster centre will focus on improving the way public health professionals and agencies work with local people and other agencies and sectors. Other centres around the country will be focusing on issues such as obesity, drug misuse and nutrition.

Lancaster, which will work in partnership with the Universities of Salford, Liverpool and Central Lancashire, will join the network of ‘collaborating centres’ launched by the Health Development agency (July 14). It will be led by Lancaster University’s Jennie Popay.

The idea of the collaborating centres is to bring together universities and other institutions to look at ways of developing the evidence base for, and promoting best practice in public health. The University and its partners will be focusing on developing good practice in community engagement and partnership working to promote population health and reduce health inequalities. The centre has funding for three years in the first instance.

Said Professor Popay, director of the centre: “This is a pivotal centre. It will be focussing on how professionals and organisations working to promote population health and reduce health inequalities can more effectively engage with local people and work in partnership with other agencies and sectors.

“We will be supporting public health professionals and agencies to work more effectively across sectors and with agencies, and with the people who are the target of their work – such as excluded groups, young people and disadvantaged groups.

“The Centre has a national focus but working from the North West region is a benefit. The north west is a microcosm of the country as a whole - we have some groups with the best health and some with the worst. The overall pattern of inequalities in such things as lifestyle and economic environment makes the north west a good place to be pioneering this kind of work.”

Dominic Harrison, Associate Director for the HDA in the north west, said: “The collaborating centre led by Lancaster University will have a major role to play over the next few years in supporting public health practitioners deliver effective action on the public health challenges we now face.

“Inequalities in health and rising levels of obesity are just two examples of particular public health issues that cannot be solved by the health sector acting alone. Each requires a partnership between the health sector, other sectors (such as the food production and distribution sectors) and most of all the public themselves.”