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The Abandoned Dog Index – A New Health Marker

18/06/2009

Having just returned from a public health conference, I wonder what I learned from my diligent participation.
After all, I had listened to Dame Carol Black, Ian Austin MP and Rashmi Shukla perorating on the cost of poor workplace health to society and the NHS. I also went to a workshop led by Jammi Rao – the Deputy Director of Public Health for the West Midlands.
I picked-up two things, well maybe three.
From the first bunch, I learned that the total cost of poor workplace health and its concomitants added-up to £110 billion per annum. (The NHS itself costs us £111 billion pa.) That was food for thought…
The second gleaning was the notion, voiced during Jammi Rao’s workshop, that, given the unreliability of formal markers for ill-health in a recession, perhaps we could monitor the rate at which dogs are abandoned or adopted in the local economy in order to get a picture of local health n wealth.
After all, the ownership of a dog – with all the affection and exercise involved – is good for physical as well as mental health. Financial problems very often lead to dogs being abandoned or given away, as a family or an individual struggles to make ends meet, so these informal markers tell a very important story.
Perhaps it time for the the DoH to gather these data and send them to the Chancellor to include in his calculations?
And, here’s my third thought. I only really gained two mini-insights from this day. There was much to take in but most of all there were people to meet. It is a commonplace that the best work at a conference is done in the bar and another to suggest that we just hold the conference in the restaurant…
I propose something slightly different: that health conferences be arranged as speed-dating events. With a bit of structure and forethought, those with an interest in Cardio Vascular Risk could be linked with cognate professionals, the priests of alcohol reduction and smoking cessation could confer and so on.
In this way, we could make for a more memorable and more enjoyable event. Not everyone is a natural networker, so the opportunity for structured introductions to discuss key work issues should lead to better and more relevant contacts. And, who knows, some wonderful relationships might develop!
Now, are there any dog owners who want to make a group..?

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From → Health, Policy, Practice

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