Public health policy to be more equitable

Published

In mid-April 2018, the Government presented the Bill entitled ‘Good and equitable public health – an advanced public health policy’ to the Riksdag. The overarching objective of public health policy will be reworded, with a clearer focus on equitable health throughout the population, and the goal of reducing avoidable health inequalities within a generation.

Two adults are sitting on the floor with some children moving around.
A population that is healthy and feels good creates better conditions for prosperity and increased growth. Photo: Folio Bildbyrå

Public health work in all sectors

Public health work is a shared responsibility and requires measures from several sectors in society: the public and private sectors, non-profit organisations and individuals themselves. All sectors should endeavour to reduce the unequal opportunities for good and equitable public health.

The proposals in the Bill are aimed at facilitating public health work at all levels of society by making the division of responsibilities at national level clearer. The Government also wants to develop follow-up of public health and evaluation of public health work, with a greater focus on differences in health distribution across the population.

Eight target areas

Public health policy's cross-sectoral target and follow-up structure with eleven target areas will be converted into eight target areas. These are:

  1. Conditions in early life
  2. Knowledge, skills and education/training
  3. Work, working conditions and work environment
  4. Income and opportunities to earn a living
  5. Accommodation and neighbourhood
  6. Living habits
  7. Control, influence and participation
  8. Equitable and health-promoting health and medical services

Each target area describes the most important factors affecting people's health and the focus on work to promote good and equitable health.

Physical activity and good eating habits

To strengthen long-term work on eating habits and physical activity, the Government is announcing a public health policy interim objective: a society that promotes increased physical activity and good eating habits for all.

Activities of the Public Health Agency of Sweden to be developed

It is proposed that the Public Health Agency of Sweden be given new tasks. The Agency should work to ensure that the national public health objective set by the Riksdag is achieved and its activities cover all eight target areas. The Agency will also be given coordination responsibility for public health work at central government level and contribute to the interaction of measures for good and equitable public health.

Pilot project at regional level

To create better conditions for local promotion and prevention work in the area of public health, the Government wants to take the initiative for a pilot project at two county councils and the Public Health Agency of Sweden. The aim is to develop methods and procedures for the coordination of regional work for good and equitable public health based on the determining factors in the eight target areas.

Council for equitable health

To achieve the desired mobilisation, the Government wants to appoint a national council for good and equitable public health, to be convened by the minister responsible for public health. Representatives of the relevant ministries and directors-general from the agencies whose core remits have the greatest bearing on public health work for good and equitable health should be included as members, as should representatives of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, academia, business and civil society.