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Top 20 Public Health Achievements of the 21st Century

CEO Tinh Phung
Public health has made significant strides in improving the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Over the years, we have witnessed major advancements in various areas such as medicine, hygiene, technology, planning, infrastructure, and...

Public health has made significant strides in improving the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Over the years, we have witnessed major advancements in various areas such as medicine, hygiene, technology, planning, infrastructure, and food, all of which have had a positive impact on public health. In this article, we will highlight the top 20 public health achievements of the 21st century in the UK.

The Smoking Ban

One of the most well-known achievements on our list is the smoking ban. In 2007, the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces was introduced, marking a monumental shift in public perception. The ban not only reduced smoking rates but also helped in the de-normalization of smoking in public. Today, the majority of smokers support the ban, and the government is taking further steps to limit smoking and achieve a smoke-free future.

Smoking Ban Caption: The smoking ban has had a significant impact on reducing smoking rates.

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy

Another notable achievement is the introduction of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, also known as the sugar levy. Implemented in 2018, this levy encourages manufacturers to reduce the sugar content in their products. It represents a shift in recognizing the role of the food and drink industry in promoting healthier choices.

Marmot Review into Health Inequalities

The Marmot Review, published in 2010, focused on the social determinants of health and health inequalities in England. This report highlighted the importance of addressing health inequalities and reframed the narrative around the determinants of health.

Marmot Review Caption: The Marmot Review paved the way for tackling health inequalities.

Sure Start Children's Centres

Sure Start children's centres, established between 2000 and 2010, aimed to provide integrated care and services for young children and their families, with a focus on closing the achievement gap for disadvantaged children.

Minimum Unit Pricing on Alcohol in Scotland

To combat alcohol-related harm, Scotland introduced Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) in 2018. This policy sets a minimum price for alcohol, targeting the affordability of the cheapest products on the market, which are often associated with the most harm. MUP has shown promising results in reducing alcohol consumption and related harms.

Minimum Unit Pricing Caption: Minimum Unit Pricing has led to a reduction in alcohol-related harms.

HPV Vaccination for Boys and Girls

The introduction of the HPV vaccine for girls in 2008 has been a tremendous success, reducing the incidence of cervical pre-cancer. To ensure broader protection, the vaccine is now also offered to boys, significantly contributing to the prevention of HPV-related cancers.

Congestion Charge and Ultra-Low Emission Zone

To tackle traffic congestion and air pollution, London implemented the congestion charge in 2003. The charge aimed to reduce private vehicle usage during the day. The introduction of the ultra-low emission zone in 2019 further contributed to reducing emissions and improving air quality.

Congestion Charge Caption: The congestion charge and ultra-low emission zone have improved air quality.

Decriminalization of Abortion in Northern Ireland

In 2019, abortion was decriminalized in Northern Ireland, enabling women and healthcare professionals to access safe and legal abortion services.

Wellbeing of Future Generations Act in Wales

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, implemented in 2015, requires public bodies in Wales to consider the long-term impact of their decisions on health, poverty, climate change, and other persistent problems. This act aims to improve health outcomes for future generations.

Tobacco Advertising Bans

The UK has implemented comprehensive tobacco advertising bans, starting with the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act in 2002. These bans have played a crucial role in reducing tobacco consumption, especially among children and young people.

Tobacco Advertising Ban Caption: The tobacco advertising bans have helped reduce tobacco consumption.

Traffic Light Labelling on Pre-packaged Food

In 2013, the government introduced the traffic light labelling system to provide clearer nutritional information on pre-packaged food. This voluntary system has been beneficial for consumers, but there are calls to make it mandatory to further improve food choices.

Transferral of Public Health into Local Authorities

In 2013, responsibility for public health services was transferred to local authorities in the UK. Despite budget cuts, local authorities have made improvements in various public health outcomes, highlighting the importance of their role in influencing the well-being of communities.

Scores on the Doors Food Hygiene Ratings

Scores on the Doors, introduced in 2005, standardized food hygiene ratings across the UK. This initiative has significantly improved compliance with food hygiene standards.

Scores on the Doors Caption: Scores on the Doors has improved food hygiene standards.

The Time to Change Campaign

The Time to Change campaign, run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, aims to reduce discrimination and improve public attitudes towards people with mental health problems. This campaign has played a crucial role in raising awareness and promoting better mental health support.

Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals Stake Limit Reduction

In 2018, the UK government reduced the stake limit on Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to reduce gambling-related harms. This initiative addresses the addictive nature of FOBTs and aims to protect vulnerable individuals.

Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals Caption: The reduction in stake limits helps protect vulnerable individuals from gambling-related harms.

Introduction of Childhood Flu Vaccine

Since 2013, the UK has implemented primary-school-based pilots for child flu vaccination. These programs have led to a reduction in flu cases and related hospital visits for both children and adults.

Reduction in Homelessness

Efforts to reduce homelessness between 2003 and 2009 were successful, with a significant drop in the number of homeless households. However, homelessness remains a pressing issue that requires sustained government commitment and funding.

Junk Food Advertising Ban

To combat childhood obesity, advertising of foods high in fat, salt, and sugar during children's television programs was banned by Ofcom in 2007. A similar ban was later extended to the Transport for London network.

Junk Food Advertising Ban Caption: The junk food advertising ban aims to tackle childhood obesity.

Drug Safety Testing at Festivals and Nightclubs

The introduction of drug safety testing at festivals and nightclubs has been a harm reduction intervention. This initiative aims to provide users with information about the content and strength of drugs, enabling them to make informed decisions and reduce harm.

Cancer Screening Improvements

The implementation of bowel and breast cancer screening programs has resulted in early detection and improved outcomes for individuals. These programs have played a significant role in reducing cancer incidence and mortality rates.

These achievements demonstrate the positive impact that public health measures can have on improving health outcomes for individuals and communities. We hope that the next twenty years of the 21st century will continue to drive forward advancements in public health, enabling everyone to live longer and healthier lives.

Honorable mentions: Teenage Pregnancy Strategy for England, The English health inequalities strategy, Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication for preventing HIV, Introduction of Naloxone as an antidote for opioid overdoses, National Policy Planning Framework.