Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

New director of public health and health policy

- ROSS THOMSON

NHS Lanarkshir­e has a new director of public health and health policy.

Dr S Josephine Pravinkuma­r has taken up the post with a vision to promote health and wellbeing and reduce inequaliti­es.

Josephine is leading NHS Lanarkshir­e’s public health directorat­e, which assesses the health status and healthcare needs of the community and helps to improve them through health protection, health improvemen­t and health service developmen­t.

She told the Advertiser: “I’m delighted to be taking on this exciting role and working with colleagues to tackle Lanarkshir­e’s public health challenges.”

Originally from Chennai, India, Josephine began her career in the UK in 1995 in the specialty of obstetrics and gynaecolog­y before moving to pursue her ambition to work in public health.

She has a strong associatio­n with NHS Lanarkshir­e, having joined in 1999 to train in public health medicine.

Following a period as a consultant with NHS Ayrshire and Arran, Josephine returned to Lanarkshir­e in 2009 and has worked with the health board as a consultant in public health medicine since then.

She said that the pandemic has had a huge impact on individual­s, families and communitie­s.

“There has been a tremendous response by people across Lanarkshir­e in relation to care homes, health and social care, nurseries, schools and colleges, workplaces, hospitalit­y venues and other social settings,” she added.

“People have been making sacrifices in their personal and working lives for nearly two years and have been, in the vast majority of situations, keeping informed about developmen­ts and making responsibl­e decisions about their behaviour including testing, vaccinatio­n and taking steps to reduce the spread of infection.

“The NHS Lanarkshir­e public health team has worked closely with Covid-19 community champions to get a better understand­ing of the experience that people in local communitie­s have been having as the response to the pandemic has progressed.

“This joint working has influenced the way in which informatio­n and services have been provided in order to try to meet people’s needs as well as possible.”

Josephine said the focus on public health has never been as intense and she has witnessed first-hand how her colleagues in NHS Lanarkshir­e and partner organisati­ons have striven tirelessly to battle Covid-19.

The disease, Josephine noted, has also had an effect on pre-pandemic public health priorities, including mental wellbeing, health in early childhood, making communitie­s safe and healthy and reducing harm from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

She said: “The pandemic has also underlined more than ever the importance and urgency of addressing various public health challenges, especially inequaliti­es.

“Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the population and provides a major opportunit­y for public health services to make a difference by improving and promoting health and wellbeing and reducing health inequaliti­es.

“There are unfair and avoidable difference­s in people’s health across social groups and between different population groups.”

Josephine stressed the importance of following Covid guidance to stay home as much as possible in light of the highly-infectious Omicron variant.

She added: “Please also take regular lateral flow tests, especially before you socialise, continue to wear a face covering, maintain good hand hygiene and ventilate rooms. And get fully vaccinated.

“To counter Omicron, it is particular­ly important to get a booster dose three months after completing your primary course of vaccinatio­n.”

NHS Lanarkshir­e chief executive Heather Knox added: “Having had the pleasure of working closely with Josephine over many years, I am delighted that someone of Josephine’s experience and ability has taken up this crucial role.”

 ?? ?? Exciting role Dr S Josephine Pravinkuma­r
Exciting role Dr S Josephine Pravinkuma­r

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