The UK government has launched a new Office for Health Promotion, designed to lead efforts to improve the nation's physical and mental health.
Tasked with promoting physical activity, tackling obesity and improving mental health, the new office is modelled on similar schemes around the world, such as Singapore’s "health promotion board".
Launched in response to the pandemic – which has exposed the severity of the UK's poor public health when it comes to preventable diseases – the office will address and tackle these public health issues across all ages.
Its remit will be to "systematically tackle the top preventable risk factors causing death and ill health in the UK", by designing, implementing and tracking delivery policy across government.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "COVID-19 has demonstrated the importance of physical health in our ability to tackle such illnesses, and we must continue to help people to lead healthy lives so that we can all better prevent and fight illnesses.
"The new Office for Health Promotion will be crucial in tackling the causes, not just the symptoms, of poor health and improving prevention of illnesses and disease."
Sitting within the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the office will aim to bring together a range of skills to lead a new era of public health policies, leveraging modern digital tools and data, as well as actuarial science and delivery experts.
The Office will now set out to recruit an "expert lead" who will report jointly to the Health Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty.
It is understood, however, that the new office won't receive additional funding and will be operated using resources from the existing health budget.
Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Good physical and mental health is central to our happiness and wellbeing. Yet so much of what keeps us healthy happens outside hospitals and the health service.
"By establishing the Office for Health Promotion we will bring health promotion into the heart of Government, working to the Chief Medical Officer, so we can level up the health of our nation, working across national and local government.
"Prevention is better than cure. By putting in place innovative prevention measures, we can help everyone to live longer, healthier lives as we ease back to normality, and relieve pressures on our NHS."
The launch of the new office follows the establishment of the new UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), set to launch in April 2021.
With the UKHSA leading on health security, the Office for Health Promotion will focus on health improvement, leading at a national level to exert influence across the health and care system and beyond.
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