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Sunday, 4 January 2015

2015 – What the New Public Health Year may bring. Predictions of what is hot and what is not.

2015 comes with no promises, but heck – why not stick a neck out and provide some predictions on where things are going in public health.

For the optimist, look to:

·         ·         Successful trials of candidate Ebola vaccines and the beginning of control on the West Africa outbreak. While not the biggest public health issues, it will continue to be the dominant media attraction for at least the first half of the year.
·         Mental Health issues will continue to receive appropriate and perhaps even expanded attention as a public health issue, more than just increased clinical services.
·         Improved involvement of public health in commenting on significant policy issues in some format of health assessment with some useful tools available to support the work
·         Further subtle migration of other health sectors to areas of prevention (without necessarily involving traditional public health experts)
·         Enhanced emergence of the specialized disciplines of public health economics and public health services research.
·         Tokenism to public health controls by implementing policy restrictions on flavoured tobacco and electronic nicotine delivery systems (/ENDS/e-cigarettes/vaping), with perhaps some attention to food advertising to children.
·         Continued general improvements in nutrition and diet – led predominately by market forces and social trends and not by organized public health responses. 

Social issue trends with significant long term health benefits.

·  ·         Increased attention to the issues of ethnic and racial discrimination as a public policy and public health issue
·         Further rhetoric on the maldistribution of wealth – without solutions
·         Attention being formally given to the issues of Canadian youth underemployment
·         Renewed attention to women’s health issues of gender equity, domestic violence, sexual discrimination and harassment. 
·         Persistent downsizing of governments and limiting growth in the health sector.
·         Continued shift in public policy power to the oil and gas megaindustries.
·         Continued migration from collective recreation to dependence on electronic communication devices

For the pessimist:

·         Further migration away from, and the disempowering of the traditional public health infrastructure
·         The continued disciplinization of public health in Canada to the detriment of the organization of public health
·         Continued flailing of the explicit poverty agenda with mere shuffling of the issues
·         Further government short selling of the future of children in the country. 
·         Expansion of faith based tensions and discrimination

And things that we might want but can expect are unlikely to happen:

·         Minister Ambrose taking a leadership role in forging federal-provincial health bridges
·         Real leadership from the Public Health Agency of Canada and the new Chief Public Health Officer
·         Multilateral international efforts to resolve tensions and expand peace

As with any list, DrP invites your suggestions and comments, posted to the website or with an assurance of anonymity if directed to drphealth@gmail.com.

Finally, renew your resolutions in support of your vocation as a public health professional. The list from 2012 remains as relevant today as from three years ago.  Dec 30 2011

May 2015 fulfill your best dreams and gift you with happiness and health

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