The Academy of Medical Sciences has recently launched a call for input to inform its ‘Health of the public in 2040’ project, which aims to identify the main health challenges the UK population will face by 2040, and the opportunities to address them, to inform future strategies and recommendations for research. Here, David Bennett, Policy Officer at the Academy of Medical Sciences, outlines the importance of the project and how you can get involved.
25 years ago, the world was markedly different. We have since seen significant technological change, including the widespread adoption of the Internet, fundamentally transforming the way we communicate, work and learn. We have seen changes to our lifestyles: to diets, physical activity, and the consumption of alcohol and tobacco. We have seen changes to our cities and transport networks; to our health and education systems. We have seen political uncertainty, financial crisis, conflict, population growth, rising life expectancy and myriad other changes, each influencing, directly or indirectly, the health of the public.
Moving towards 2040, we will inevitably face many new challenges – be they technological, demographic, social, political, environmental or economic – which will impact the health and wellbeing of our growing, diverse and ageing population. It is therefore crucial that we have the appropriate evidence to inform decisions affecting the population’s health. What’s more, it is imperative that we have the means to support the generation of this evidence (in terms of partnerships, capacity and methods), and to ensure that it is effectively translated into policy and practice.
To address this, we at the Academy of Medical Sciences are undertaking an interdisciplinary working group project: ‘Health of the public in 2040’. The working group, chaired by Professor Dame Anne Johnson DBE FMedSci, intends to help secure future wellbeing by better understanding the factors which will affect the public’s health over the next 25 years. By exploring how these factors might be influenced to deliver desirable outcomes, and by identifying the uncertainties associated with these factors, the working group will make practical recommendations relating to future research requirements.
The final report of the project will be published in spring 2016, and will be aimed at policymakers, funders, researchers (including trainees), professional and regulatory bodies, public health service providers, and the public.
Coinciding with the launch of the project in November 2014, we held a one-day ‘aspirations and drivers of change’ workshop. The event brought together a diverse mix of people to explore desires for the population’s health, and the drivers of change which will shape it over the coming decades. A report of the event is available for download on our website.
To explore these ideas in greater depth, and to ensure that the project is informed by the views of the wider stakeholder community, we have recently launched a call for input. This is an opportunity for the working group to hear your views concerning the future health of the UK population. Your input will be instrumental in helping the working group develop tractable recommendations, ensuring that future generations have every opportunity to live healthy, fulfilling lives. We hope you are able to contribute to this exciting project, and look forward to hearing your thoughts.