Leeds faces a range of public health challenges in 2014, says Leeds City Council Director of Public Health Ian Cameron in his first annual report to the city council’s executive board.

Praising the council for its commitment to rising to the challenge improving the city’s health and wellbeing, Dr Cameron’s report, which was approved by the executive board, states clearly that health protection is a priority for the city and highlights areas of focus for action:

• Controlling communicable diseases, including fighting tuberculosis
• Measles and MMR vaccination, as well as whooping cough vaccination
• Reducing air pollution
• Reducing infant deaths
• Improving health in schools

Dr Cameron said:

“The recommendations reflect areas where I am sure we can make a real difference. Health protection means the people of the city not suffering in the way they might in the 1860s and 1870s. We’ve made enormous progress over the last 150 years, but there are still areas where, by targeting our efforts where they will make most difference, we can continue to make more progress.

“This is why I am calling for a Leeds Health Protection Board to be created which can raise awareness, monitor progress and ensure we are best placed to deal with future challenges, such as drug-resistant organisms.

“As we head into the second year of public health being part of Leeds City Council, the importance of making sure we make the most of every Leeds pound is clearer by the day. We have to work across the city and region to link provision from ourselves, the NHS and third sector so that we deliver as well as we can in financially challenging times.”

The most recent statistics show that the city has made good progress on many of the areas targeted by the health and wellbeing board, with good progress on the uptake of child immunisations and reducing infant deaths, but although tuberculosis numbers are going down, it remains a priority area. Increasing MMR uptake and making sure the youngest in society get the best start possible are both areas that will be targeted this Year too.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing, said:

“Responsibility for Public Health moving to local authorities has been a major change, and Leeds is fortunate to have an excellent team committed to improving health in the city. Dr Cameron’s annual report provides excellent insight into some of the work his team deliver and a call to action for us to make a real difference to health outcomes in Leeds. We have made a positive start to making real improvements, but we know there is a lot more to be done.”

“It is a phenomenally tough time, so we are determined to make sure we make the best of the full range of services we have. Integrating work, making sure we have an emphasis on prevention and engaging people in the way we deliver health and social care will be paramount in the coming years.”

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