Healthy Ireland is a Government-led initiative which aims to create an Irish society where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health, and where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society.
Healthy Ireland has come about because of concerns that the current health status of people living in Ireland – including lifestyle trends and health inequalities – is leading us towards a future that is dangerously unhealthy, and very likely unaffordable.
The many risks to the health and wellbeing of people living in Ireland include some which are obvious: issues such as overweight and obesity, mental health, smoking, alcohol and drugs. Healthy Ireland seeks to provide people and communities with accurate information on how to improve their health and wellbeing and seeks to empower and motivate them by making the healthy choice the easier choice.
We also now know that many of the factors that influence a person’s health and wellbeing, such as their education level, income, housing and work conditions are determined by social, environmental and economic policies beyond the direct responsibility of the health sector.
This understanding calls for a partnership approach in all the actions Healthy Ireland is taking to achieve a healthier Ireland. The health sector alone cannot address these problems – we must collectively change our approach.
This is what Healthy Ireland is about – making Ireland a healthier nation through cultural change, operational change and mindset change. Everyone has a role to play in taking care of our physical and mental health for the initiative to be truly successful.
Healthy Ireland aims to create an Ireland where health and wellbeing is valued and supported and on everyone’s agenda in a meaningful way.
The Healthy Ireland Framework was launched in 2013 and articulates four central goals for improved health and wellbeing.
The Health and Wellbeing Programme in the Department of Health is responsible for the coordination of the implementation of Healthy Ireland. A number of new structures have been put in place to ensure that all sectors of society are given opportunities to participate in the initiative. These include a Cross-Sectoral Group comprising high-level representatives from Government Departments and key State agencies which have been established to provide strategic direction, to monitor and evaluate implementation over time and to provide clear communications channels across Government.
The Minister for Health has also appointed 35 members to the Healthy Ireland Council, a multi-stakeholder national forum which provides the platform to connect and mobilise communities, families and individuals into a national movement with one aim: supporting everyone to enjoy the best possible health and wellbeing.