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Launch of Ireland and Northern Ireland's Population Health Observatory

The Armagh Observatory today hosted the official launch of the The Institute of Public Health's All-Ireland Population Health Observatory's web site, the "Population Health Intelligence System" (PHIS), at www.publichealth.ie or www.inispho.org. The new facility provides on-line access to over 10 years of public health information.

The Institute of Public Health is an all-island body committed to tackling inequalities in health. With a remit to promote co-operation for public health between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, much of its work focuses on strengthening the information and skills people need to work for improvements in the health of society.

The new popluation health intelligence web site will provide access to information ranging from rates of mortality, fertility, congenital abnormalities to population growth throughout the island of Ireland, complementing similar public health observatories established elsewhere. In particular, it provides on-line access to health information published annually by the Chief Medical Officer and the four Health Board Directors of Public Health in Northern Ireland and from an annual CD produced by the Department of Health and Children in the Republic of Ireland.

Associate Director of the Institute, Dr Kevin Balanda explained: "We want to make information about people's health accessible to as wide and as varied an audience as possible. This information will be of primary interest to public health professionals, health service managers, policy makers, Government and researchers but it is also accessible to anyone with an interest in health. We expect that, in it's new online format, it will become a first port of call for intelligence about health, the factors that affect it and the interventions that improve it."

Dr Balanda continued: "The wider availability of information on the public's health together with a strengthening of the research and information infrastructure throughout Ireland will contribute to better intelligence, better decisions and better health."

Professor Mark Bailey, Director of the Armagh Observatory, commented that: "Both population health monitoring and astronomy are fundamentally observationally driven. Such observations, often recorded initially for no other reason than scientific curiosity, lie at the heart of any new general understanding. In turn, this leads to the development of new theories and, where appropriate, the opportunity to influence or perhaps even to drive public policy. At least this - it seems to me - must be one of the objects of the exercise."

In addition to PHIS, INIsPHO (www.inispho.org) includes access to publications and details about current projects. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT: Arlene McKay at the Institute of Public Health in Ireland, Tel: 028-9064-8494 and 00353-1-4786300; FAX: 028-9064-6604 and 00353-1-4786319; arlene.mckaypublichealth.ie; URL: www.publichealth.ie.

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Last Revised: 2006 January 20th
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