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Good Places, Better Health: A New approach to the Environment and Health in Scotland: Implementation Plan

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FOREWORD

The health of Scotland's people has improved greatly in a few generations. An important contribution to this improvement has been the organised efforts of government and many agencies to secure a clean and healthy environment.

Despite these improvements, major challenges still exist. While the quality of the air that we breathe and the water that we drink may be uniformly high, the difference in health and in life expectancy amongst different communities is stark. It is vital, therefore that we achieve a better understanding of the subtle and complex contribution of environment to health and wellbeing. Today's issues are less about toxic or infectious threats but rather the capacity of ugly scarred and threatening environments to foster hopelessness and stress, discourage active healthy lives and healthy behaviours.

Good Places, Better Health offers an innovative approach to understanding the complexities and to finding more effective and inclusive ways to engage national and local stakeholders. Only through organising to deliver can we shape and implement the policies to make a real difference to the places where we live.

When it comes to health and wellbeing, it is often said that 'everything matters'. Our challenge is to translate this understanding into effective policy and action. The launch of Good Places, Better Health is evidence that Scotland is rising to that challenge using an innovative approach which is both policy-relevant and pragmatic.

Dr Harry Burns signature

Dr Harry Burns
Chief Medical Officer
November 2008