Paths for All welcome the plans in the consultation which presented a chance to positively influence Scotland’s health for many years into the future. The focus on action on the social determinants of health, rather than the consequences of ill-health, should be a breath of fresh air in our approach to people’s long-term wellbeing.
A coordinated, whole system approach is required if we are to achieve this preventative approach to health, as advocated by the Christie Commission in 2011.
The third sector will be a vital factor in putting prevention at the heart of health and care and we welcome the intention that the agency will ensure third sector organisations are fully involved. Voluntary organisations can give a voice to local communities and make links between communities and public sector bodies. We see a strong role in community planning as key to the agency achieving the kind of change that is needed. It would seem logical that the organisation should have a statutory role in relation to Community Planning Partnerships.
One of the most effective ways to improve the health of our population is to increase physical activity levels. This is recognised as a public health priority and it is important that the new body can promote this. Walking has been proven to be the most popular, accessible and effective way of doing this.
We are therefore keen that the body supports delivery of the National Walking Strategy. This delivers on the Scottish Government’s Active Scotland Outcomes Framework and Delivery Plan and makes the link between active travel, health and environment.
Walking acts as an important leveller in variations in participation and so is important in tackling inequalities. Participation in sport varies by age, gender, area deprivation and household income, but when we include walking for recreation, these participation gaps narrow.
Participation in all physical activity and sport remained relatively constant between 2007 and 2010 (around 72%). Since then people have become more active (rising to 75% in 2011 and again to 81% in 2017). The rise in physical activity is driven by the rise in recreational walking. 67% of adults walked for at least 30 minutes for recreation in the last four weeks, an increase from 57% five years earlier (SHS 2017)
This blog was written by Ian McCall, Senior Development Officer at Paths for All. You can contact him here – firstname.lastname@example.org