HC Deb 17 June 1997 vol 296 c142W
Mr. Barry Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what measures he proposes to advance preventive medicine. [1157]

Mr. Win Griffiths

There are many initiatives under way to prevent ill health.

Primary prevention initiatives including the Welsh Child Health Surveillance programmes play a vital role in monitoring the health and development of children. They help to prevent illnesses, particularly, childhood infectious diseases. Indeed, the childhood vaccination and immunisation programme represents one of the most effective public health interventions currently available. At very little cost, life long protection can be provided against infectious diseases—the health burdens of which can be enormous.

Health education also has a role to play. This is the responsibility of Health Promotion Wales. Health Promotion Wales are responsible for co-ordinating national campaigns dealing with a full range of health promotion issues including smoking, diet, physical activity, substance misuse and healthy sexual behaviour. Their work is complemented by specialist health promotion services commissioned by health authorities; by staff working in the primary and community health services; and by national voluntary agencies.

Additionally, a range of legislation is in place to control the incidence of food-borne diseases and the Government are committed to protecting the public health through additional measures to ensure the safety of food, including the establishment of a Food Standards Agency.

Secondary prevention measures including the early detection of breast and cervical cancers, for example, through screening programmes available in Wales have significantly improved chances of survival from these diseases.

We have set a list of targets to improve the health of the people of Wales. These include reducing deaths from cancer of the lung, breast and cervix. Other target areas include coronary heart disease and stroke. We have also asked health authorities to draw up plans to reduce accident and suicide rates and to work to improve the quality of life of patients with a number of painful conditions.

All these initiatives, both existing and proposed, will continue to be afforded a high priority to ensure that we provide the greatest possible health benefits for the people of Wales and ensure that health strategies are responsive to the needs of the local population.

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