Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes, account for the greatest burden of death and ill health globally and in the UK. The UK Health Forum (UKHF) recognises that tackling the modifiable risk factors for NCDs demands action to address the wider economic, social and environmental determinants of poor health. A focus on the upstream causes of disease will bring potential co-benefits for sustainable development, climate change and social justice – by reducing health inequalities. The Government has legal and moral responsibilities for the welfare and prospects of future generations and must define its duties in terms of securing and protecting the health of the people across the UK.
Public-policy decision making must be safeguarded against conflicts of interest. As a first step we want the new government to make a clear commitment to prioritise public health over business interests. This should be demonstrated by adopting a more appropriate position with regards to the alcohol and processed food industries.
In the first 100 days, the new Government should:
- Commit to increase resources, investment and local powers for public health. For example, put forward and consult on sales tax(es) on unhealthy products such as sugar-sweetened soft drinks; on new levies on tobacco, alcohol and processed food companies; and on greater local licensing and planning powers.
- Prioritise public health. For example, by committing to integrate public health goals and indicators within policies of all government departments and throughout local government.
- Formally integrate the NCD prevention agenda into all public health, health and social care and their outcomes frameworks.
- Form a cross-department working group to begin developing a Code of Conduct and Ethical Framework to help protect the integrity of, and to ensure transparency in, public policy decision-making.
- Set-out a timeline and process to develop a UK strategy on NCDs and global health that aligns with the post-2015 Global Development Framework.