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Making Highland Healthy: 2008 report from the Director of Public Health at NHS Highland

Issued: 2 Sep 2008

In his innovative annual report on the health of Highland's public, lead public health doctor Eric Baijal has devised a new way of presenting his information. This is through telling the stories of three fictional, but representative Highland characters.

The stories of Bob, Shona and Dariusz are an attempt to personalise the persisting problem of health inequalities in Highland.

In the report all three characters suffer setbacks in their lives which have an impact on their health but they cope with them in different ways. Shona and Dariusz feel comfortable getting help while Bob is mistrustful of services and this becomes a barrier to him getting support. Shona and Dariusz embark on professional careers early in their lives which sets them up for better financial stability in later years while Bob swaps jobs in a crisis and ends up in the building trade where he suffers an injury at work.

Director of Public Health Dr. Eric Baijal said: "This year's annual report emphasises the joint effort needed to tackle inequality in health and I wanted to express this in a more meaningful way rather than just in cold statistics. Within the public health department, one of my senior staff has devised a new tool called a 'life clock'. This demonstrates that the choices we make and the circumstances that we live in influence our health, our wellbeing and eventually our time of death. Too often we see health problems reduced to personal choice and while I would always encourage people to take responsibility I need everyone to realise that it will take collective action to level the playing field and ensure everyone enjoys an equal chance of good health and a long life."

Dr Baijal, who is also the Designated Medical Officer for both The Highland and Argyll and Bute Councils, went on to say: "My report "Making Highland Healthy" makes the point that my team and I can't do it alone. We need the support of everyone in Highland to create an environment in which making a healthy choice is the easy option. We need to see our communities become supportive of people who are trying to eat well, take more exercise, drink less and stop smoking. This will take everyone from those with power and influence in public life to the private sector and to us all as citizens and consumers to do what we can to transform the way we live."

© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme