Scotland’s National Transport Strategy going the right direction for public health
First published on 24 October 2019
We welcome Scotland’s National Transport Strategy as part of a whole system approach for good health and wellbeing. Transport is a fundamental part of the places we live in, which are important determinants of health, and should be central to their development and design.
Transport impacts directly on our physical and mental health through air quality, injury, physical activity levels and noise. It also connects and disconnects people and communities. Affordable, available and accessible transport is integral to accessing services, maintaining employment and participating in social opportunities. These are all part of our right to health and are key to addressing health inequalities.
Ali MacDonald, Organisational Lead Healthy Active Environments, NHS Health Scotland said:
“Transport’s influence on health is complex and wide ranging. People in our poorest areas and those living on lower incomes are more likely to experience the harmful health impacts of transport. Scotland’s National Transport Strategy has the potential to deliver a transport system that positively influences the public’s health and addresses poverty and social isolation, which are key drivers of health inequalities.
“Our research tells us that policies that develop the active travel infrastructure to regularly connect people, ones that create safer environments, and that improve the accessibility, availability and affordability of public transport are the most effective ways transport can improve physical and mental health. A focus on reducing traffic emissions and the proportion of trips by car can improve air quality and also encourage more active travel. All of these taken together have huge potential to benefit population health, reduce health inequalities and support environmental sustainability – a triple win for Scotland.
“Now that a sustainable transport strategy is being developed at the national level, it will be for all of us to focus our efforts locally to ensure the transport system supports people in all communities to achieve the highest attainable standard of health. Actions such as local health inequalities impact assessments, monitoring the impact of policy on health and engaging communities using tools like the Place Standard can influence transport policy to have the best possible impact on public health.”
NHS Health Scotland submitted evidence during the strategic development process for the current strategy. We also were part of the National Transport Strategy Partnership Group to ensure health and wellbeing outcomes were incorporated. As a public health community we will continue to support Scotland’s National Transport Strategy with the right to health in mind.
Scotland’s National Transport Strategy was open for consultation until 23 October 2019.