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Health promotion and education at home and away

Professor Jane Wills, Professor of Health Promotion at LSBU has been promoting health and well-being on home soil working with our government as well as delivering workshops and lectures in Africa.
17 July 2013

Jane contributed to a meeting in October 2012 at the House of Commons hosted by Rosie Cooper, MP and members of the Health Select Committee. This event was to celebrate 50 years of the Institute of Health Promotion and Education and marked 40 years of health promotion education at LSBU, where Jane has been for nearly 20 of them. LSBU, alongside University of West of England and Leeds Metropolitan University, was one of the first three UK universities asked to provide health education specialist training by the then Department of Health in 1972.

Until recently, all primary care organisations had departments called health education, then health promotion and latterly, health improvement. Their activities included helping organisations such as schools to focus on health, developing local strategies to tackle key issues such as alcohol use as well as developing the skills and abilities of individuals, communities and groups, and training professionals to tackle health issues. In recent years these activities have been subsumed under an umbrella of public health which is assumed to be 'everyone's business'. The student group at LSBU has changed correspondingly and now includes health and social care professionals from many varied settings.

Earlier in the year, Jane also delivered a workshop for the Public Health Division of the Ghana Health Service on evidence-informed decision making in June. The workshop considered what is known about effective approaches to key issues such as promoting the uptake of insecticide treated nets to prevent malaria and promoting the uptake of measles vaccination. An issue that taxed the participants was the evidence on effective methods for promoting blood donation as the shortage of blood products is a factor in maternal mortality.

Jane then went to Nigeria and delivered two lectures on public health priorities in Nigeria and the skills and competences needed for public health practice. These open public lectures attracted strong audiences who welcomed the opportunity to discuss key issues. Travel was restricted at the time in the northern region and one small college in Northern Nigeria flew 10 students to Lagos for the lecture.

LSBU has an active student recruitment programme in Nigeria as part of its international strategy. These public lectures were designed to stimulate interest in the subject area and the benefits of acquiring a qualification in public health from LSBU either by studying in London, or through in-country provision by the team. The MSc Public Health and Health Promotion course currently has five students from Nigeria.