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The PHA – an informed, collaborative and strong advocate for public health.


Influencing Public Health

council building imagePublic health is the science and art of promoting health, preventing disease and prolonging life through the organised efforts of society.

The PHA seeks to be instrumental in helping to shape the development of sensible and effective public health policy. On this page you can find information about influencing public health policy at a local and regional level, other organisations akin to the PHA and public health events.

PHA position statements are available in our Health Topics section.

Supporting a public health perspective in local and regional government

Local and regional government can control a large number of factors that determine the health of people in their areas. In 2010 the PHA developed a plain language guide: How to promote public health in your community.

Effective engagement with Māori would make public health action by local government much more effective. We have a 2010 background paper on local government engagement with Māori.

Long-Term Council plans

The new Local Government Act requires local authorities to have Long Term Plans and update them periodically

In the coming months the PHA will be updating its resources to help you influence your local and regional government so that they become excellent partners in improving health and reducing health inequalities.

The Cancer Society of New Zealand Social and Behavioural Research Unit of Otago University has put together some of the evidence base for activity and health to help when you make submissions to Council Long-Term and Annual plans. This document is available here ( 2Mb).

You need to know when your Local and Regional Councils are calling for public input to their plans and processes, so we've gathered together the Council websites ( 195Kb).

PHA submission on Auckland Council draft Long-Term Plan 2011

Here is a link to the PHA submission on the Draft Auckland Council plan.

Other information on local government action and public health

The most recent publication is the advice to the Minister of Health in 2010 from the Public Health Advisory Committee, Healthy Places, Healthy Lives: Urban environments and wellbeing. It provides an evidence-based review of how the urban environment influences the health of communities and how it is possible to design cities and towns for positive health outcomes.

The Ministry of Health published Public Health in New Zealand: Local Government’s Contribution to Wellbeing in 2009.  The purpose of that publication is to highlight good practice that is occurring in the public health sector. By encouraging more effective working relationships between health and local government agencies, more efficient action should develop at a local and regional level to support people in adopting healthier lifestyles.

Contact the office for more advice and assistance, or if you have suggestions for keeping this material up-to-date.

Being clear about important public health issues

Common Cause; The Case for Working with our Cultural Values

Much of the success and importance of public health interventions and approaches depend on the fact that everyone benefits from public health action – you can’t restrict clean air to only some people.

Common Cause is a UK publication "...intended to catalyse debate on current approaches to tackling a wide range of challenges – including global poverty, climate change and biodiversity loss. …Throughout this report such challenges are referred to, collectively, as 'bigger-than-self' problems. This is to distinguish them from another class of problem: one that it is clearly in an individual's immediate self-interest to invest energy and resources in helping to tackle."

Particular thanks to Professor Charlotte Paul for drawing this to our attention.

A New Way to Talk About the Social Determinants of Health
Health starts where we live, learn, work and play

This excellent publication provides information on what words, phrases and framing works to help others to understand about what it means to be healthy and what influences health and wellbeing:

While it has been developed in the US for that particular population most of it is highly relevant to us In Aotearoa.

The messaging guide is 38 pages, in colour, but it prints reasonably in black and white, so you may want to check set your printer settings.

Public Health in primary care

Primary health care as considered internationally, is much wider than the commonly used terminology in New Zealand. It includes many actions that we think of as public health including health promotion (see WHO Alma-Ata Declaration 1978).

Health Promotion in PHOs – a report 2011

This recently completed report for the PHA looked at the capability of Primary Health Organisations in New Zealand to deliver health promotion. It concludes that the great diversity in PHOs means that frameworks for health promotion are not being used for full benefit.

There is need for continuing skill development of health promoters, organisation development in PHOs, and that the health promotion profession needs to more clearly articulate its connection to primary care.

Letters to the editor guide

Do you feel strongly about a public health issue? Write a letter to the editor using our simple letter writing techniques, list of email addresses and examples of sample letters (alcohol, housing, tobacco, oral health and preventing family violence). You can download the guide here ( 25Kb).


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