New targets for health

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The Independent Online
Tough new targets for improving public health are to be set by the Government to reduce the health gap between the rich and poor.

Tessa Jowell, minister for public health, will today set out the Government's strategy for reducing health inequalities and announce plans for co-ordinating action across government departments to reduce the burden of ill health and disease.

The targets, to be set out in a Green Paper in the autumn, will replace those in the previous government's Health of the Nation strategy launched in 1992. Ministers believe that that strategy highlighted the problems but failed to focus action to remedy them.

The Health of the Nation strategy included 27 disease and population targets for reducing rates of heart disease, stroke and cancer as well as smoking, teenage pregnancy and suicide. A report last year by the National Audit Office said that it was failing on three population targets - obesity, smoking and drinking, in which the trends were upward.

The new strategy is expected to retain the disease targets but have fewer population targets, each of which will be backed by a programme to ensure it is achieved.

Ms Jowell, giving her first major speech as health minister at a national conference organised by the health department in London, will also announce the Government's plans to re-examine the 1980 Black report on inequalities in health.