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Public health is not an optional extra says Chief Medical Officer

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride has launched his annual report, highlighting the challenges of maintaining and improving public health under current financial pressures.

Launching the report, Dr McBride said: “We must continue to make the best use of the resources available to us to help meet the increasing demands placed on the health service by our ageing population and the costs of new treatments.”

Dr McBride also pointed out that everyone has a contribution to make: “We must all take more responsibility for our own health and that includes watching what we eat, taking regular exercise, if we smoke, stopping and limiting our alcohol intake. These measures can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing conditions which place a considerable burden on our healthcare system.”

Cancer continues to be a major cause of ill health and death in Northern Ireland. In 2008, almost 4,000 people in Northern Ireland died from it. Two initiatives aimed at reducing the burden of cancer are the legislation currently being introduced to regulate the sun bed industry and the introduction of the bowel cancer screening programme which aims to save 60 lives per year. Dr McBride said: “I would encourage everyone to respond to their bowel screening invitation, even those who feel perfectly fit and healthy. The message of the programme is – don’t die of embarrassment - this test could save your life.”

The CMO highlighted that the swine flu pandemic was a major test of the Northern Ireland pandemic flu plans. He said: “Much has been learnt from this experience and, as a result, pandemic plans are being updated.” He added: “This year’s seasonal flu vaccine will protect you against the swine flu virus, so if you normally get called for seasonal flu vaccination, it is important that you go.”

In his report, Dr McBride also recognised the importance of maintaining and improving the quality of patient care and again highlights a range of ongoing initiatives including the ongoing work to reduce health care associated infections, the development of the Service Frameworks and the approval of NICE guidance recommendations. He said “Good quality care costs, but poor quality care costs society more.”

Other issues covered in the report include:

Alcohol and drugs Legal highs Sexual health Safe surgery Positive parenting

The Chief Medical Officer’s annual report is available to download from nidirect.

Notes to editors:

1. Media queries to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0575, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.