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Healthy Cities 21st Century

A New Vision for Health Lecture Series 2007/2008

Belfast Healthy Cities, supported by the Investing for Health Eastern Area Partnership, organised the lecture series "A New Vision for Health: Can new structures deliver a better health for all?" in 2007/2008. The series aimed to stimulate new thinking on key health issues and suggest solutions that can help support innovation amid the challenges of RPA.

Lecture 1: The Biology of Poverty

The first lecture looked at exactly how a disadvantaged living environment leads to ill health. Dr Harry Burns, Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, presented research that makes a link between disadvantage, increased stress levels and physiological reactions that result in a higher risk of disease. The session was opened by Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, who gave an overview of inequalities in health in Northern Ireland.

Dr Michael McBride: Health Inequalities - the Northern Ireland Context

Dr Harry Burns: The Biology of Poverty

Lecture 2: The Power of Wellbeing

Keynote speaker was Dr Derek Cox, Director of Public Health at NHS Dumfries and Galloway. Dr Cox and colleagues have worked to develop a tool for measuring wellbeing, and initial results show that this tool highlights inequalities more significantly than more conventional deprivation measures.

Dr Cox argued that in future, policy must refocus on people instead of places, as needs differ also between people in a given area. He also argued that focusing on wellbeing is the way forward as there is a biological link between lack of wellbeing and ill health, and it appears to explain ill health better than deprivation measures alone.

The session was opened by Dr Brian Gaffney, Chief Executive of the Health Promotion Agency, who argued that it is time health professionals engage with wellbeing, which to date has mainly interested economists as a prerequisite for economic growth.

Dr Derek Cox: Lots of Stuff about Wellbeing

Dr Brian Gaffney: Measuring Wellbeing: 'The Pursuit of Happiness'

Lecture 3: Climate Change and Health

Climate change will have wide ranging impacts on health and wellbeing, from direct threats such as new diseases and extreme weather events to indirect impacts such as increasing cost of food and potential for displacement of people. The health sector can and should play a leading role both in mitigating climate change and helping people adapt to already inevitable change. That was the key message from lecture 3, which featured presentations from Tanja Wolf of the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health, who also was part of the Nobel Peace Prize winning team behind Al Gore in 2007; Dr John Sweeney, a climate change expert from the National University of Ireland at Maynooth and Dr John Gilliland, then Sustainable Development Commissioner for Northern Ireland.

Tanja Wolf: Climate Change and Health

Dr John Sweeney: Climate Change in Ireland: Scenarios, Impacts and Some Preliminary Observations Regarding Health Effects

Dr John Gilliland: Northern Ireland, Climate Change and the Challenge

Lecture 4: The Art of Citymaking

The final lecture featured Charles Landry, international authority on creative cities and creative city making. He focused on elements required for a creative city, and on the importance of being willing to think differently. The lecture was introduced by Peter McNaney, Chief Executive of Belfast City Council, who spoke about the Belfast experience of citymaking. Please note these are large files that will take some time to download.

Charles Landry: The Art of Citymaking

Peter McNaney: The Art of Citymaking: The Belfast Experience

Climate Change Roundtable

The roundtable featured a keynote presentation from Anna Coote, Commissioner for Health at the Sustainable Development Commission, who argued that NHS as the largest organisation in the UK has a key role to play through its energy and food procurement, construction, transport and environmental policies. Neil Alldred, Chair of the Climate Change Coalition in Northern Ireland provided an overview of the Coalition, and Brendan Forde, current Chair of the Climate Change Impacts Partnership introduced the Partnership's work.

Anna Coote: Preventing Illness Caused by Climate Change: The Role of the National Health Service