Skip to content

It is with great pleasure that I present this report – my third report as Director of Public Health – on promoting and protecting public health in Lothian. In presenting the annual report for 2007 I have sought to build on the themes explored in my earlier reports. I have already considered how we can remove and reduce the barriers that people experience in seeking to be healthy and how people can achieve their potential for better health. This annual report looks at how we can sustain the health of Lothian people.

The concept of ‘sustainability’ in health is becoming increasingly important. The logic is simple. There is an urgent need to find a new balance between the exploitation of the finite natural resources that are available across the globe to support the current (and expanding) world population in an equitable manner. Current problems such as environmental degradation, pollution and climate change are important for the health of people. This recognition of the inter-related nature of people, their health development and the environments and resources needed to support society has resulted in a convergence between what is called the sustainable development agenda and that of maintaining and promoting the health of people and the communities in which they live. This is something that I consider further as I introduce each of the sections below.

In this report, I have explored this convergence of issues within the three domains of public health and reflected in the Health for all policies promoted by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In each of the sections – People and Places, Sustainable Services and Protecting Health and Environments – I have sought to highlight aspects of how sustainability is an issue for public health in Lothian and what needs to be done to ensure that the health status of the local community continues to improve without moving beyond our human, financial and natural resources. Support for such an approach already exists within national policy. The development of the Environment and Health Strategic Framework by the Scottish Government, for example, seeks to create a coherent framework in which policy drivers affecting social and natural environments that impact on health can be better understood and analysed, with necessary action prioritised.

If we are to improve health and reduce inequality, we must create systems that respond to change in social and natural environments, without creating instability elsewhere.

In presenting this Annual Report, I remain conscious of the challenges that we face in creating sustainable public health in Lothian. I hope that this Annual Report, and the Lothian Health Intelligence data set on the accompanying CDROM, encourages all of us to work to achieve this goal for the people we serve.

Dr Alison McCallum, Director of Public Health and Health Policy

Dr Alison McCallum
Director of Public Health and Health Policy