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With improvements in life expectancy stalling and inequalities in healthy life expectancy widening, there is growing recognition across the UK of the importance of improving and maintaining people’s health and reducing health inequalities. It is clear this cannot be achieved from action by the ‘health’ system alone.
People’s health is, to a large extent, shaped by the social, economic, commercial and environmental conditions they live in – the wider determinants of health. People who experience health-promoting conditions, such as a good education, high-quality employment, a decent and secure home, and strong, supportive relationships, are more likely to lead long, healthy lives than those without such opportunities. Whether through transport, housing, or fiscal or employment policies, decisions taken by national and local governments have the potential to create the conditions for healthy lives, or indeed erode them. Thus, there is a need for whole government strategies to create conditions that enable people to lead healthy lives.
‘Health in all policies’ is an established approach to improving health and health equity through concerted cross-sector action on the wider determinants of health. This collection of case studies illustrates practical attempts to do this around the world, from Australia to Canada. Some show national initiatives, while others focus on action taken in regional or local authorities. Each project achieved different successes and demonstrated various challenges, and all offer valuable insights into implementing health in all policies for the UK and beyond.
The collection is not designed to be prescriptive, but aims to stimulate ideas, generate discussion, and share knowledge and experience from around the world.