Dr Muna Abdel Aziz, Director of Public Health for Salford, discusses Public Health and what it means for the community and to her.
Previously the Director of Public Health for Warrington, Dr Abdel Aziz is now the Director of Public Health in Salford and has been a medical doctor specialising in community medicine. She has trained and worked in Public Health for the past 20 years in the UK.
“I joined Salford Council as the director for public health for Salford in 2020, just a couple of months before Covid hit,” she says “In that time, January and February, I was able to make connections with the different people and organisations that work in Salford to produce our next five-year plan which is the locality plan for Salford,”
She explains that although “from March we were more focused on Covid, at the same time we are looking forward to the future to make sure we do achieve our five-year plan.”
When asked to define Public Health she explained, “the standard definition for public health is the science and art of promoting and protecting health and well-being, preventing ill-health and prolonging life with organised efforts of society.
“That’s the Faculty of Public Health’s definition and this is the professional organisation that looks at public health professional standards across the UK.”
“People in public health work in different parts of government, local government, the NHS, Public Health England and these are specialists in public health – but public health is everybody’s responsibility.”
Dr Abdel Aziz explains her personal definition of Public Health: “For me, it’s about our lives, our health and our future.
“It’s about making sure we are tackling health inequalities because our experiences of our health, lives, aspirations and future life chances depend on a lot of other issues that aren’t about health; like our housing, education, poverty, environment and so on,
“So for me, public health in Salford for the next five years, we have a plan. We have a plan for the place, we have a plan for health, we have a plan for the people where we aspire to have the best future life chances, for our future prosperity.”
The global pandemic caused by the coronavirus Covid-19 highlighted the integral role Public Health plays in how we live our lives daily, with many of us having to re-evaluate our daily routines and change our way of life drastically in order to protect ourselves and others from the spread of this virus.
“We aspire for the best possible health for the people of Salford, to make sure we are tackling inequalities and experiences of health.” Dr Abdel Aziz emphasizes “So that’s about quality of life for people, but also the length of life because it’s about people living as many years of as healthy a life as possible.”
“COVID has been this balance between personal responsibility and the social impact and social responsibility… It’s the same for any other Public Health issue. There always is that balance between rights, responsibilities and impact.”
When asked about Public Health in Salford, she says: “So in Public Health, what I would say about the people of Salford is that we care, we care about each other.
“We look out for each other, but also we care about others; as in not just myself and my loved ones, not just the people around me, but also people all over the world.
“Because we can see that, with COVID, something that happened somewhere else outside of the UK, affected the whole world. Whatever we do, the choices we make here in Salford they affect our future, but they also affect the futures of people around us.”
Dr Abdel Aziz mentions looking forward to working with people of Salford: “I know that young people are really passionate about this, so we are looking forward to working with the people of Salford around our future prosperity,
She ends with an encouraging note, saying: “We really need to have young people active and passionate about public health.”
To read the Salford Locality Plan, click here.