Making Life Better Conference 2019
The Inaugural Making Life Better Regional Conference was held on 4 June 2019 in Craigavon Civic Centre. Chaired by William Crawley, the conference aimed to reach out to stakeholders from across all sectors and, through keynote speakers, deliver sessions based on the six key themes of MLB and to launch the Regional Making Life Better Network.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, opened the conference and welcomed delegates to the inaugural conference and launch of the Regional Making Life Better Network. Dr McBride highlighted how the MLB Network is designed to help us come together as partners to work towards MLB’s vision of improved health and wellbeing through sharing learning and good practice, networking, and building and strengthening relationships across organisations and sectors. This can only be done together and by the registered attendance at the conference, it is clear that many share in this vision. Dr McBride encouraged delegates to engage in conversation, make new and strengthen existing connections and to commit to making life better for the populations we serve.
The MLB network aims to:
- Re-energise action to deliver on MLB and to share information and learning with the view of discussing how best to move forward through strengthened partnerships and collaborative approaches.
- Bring partners together to work towards a vision of improved health and wellbeing through sharing learning and good practice, networking, and building and strengthening relationships across organisations and sectors.
- Recognize the good work that has been done to date on the delivery of Making Life Better and to galvanise collective efforts for greater collaboration and better outcomes into the future
The morning continued with a keynote address from Prof Neil Gibson considering why health and wellbeing matters, the current situation in Northern Ireland and the particular challenges faced in Northern Ireland. Professor Gibson closed noting the need for more prevention and not cure; consideration of the potential transformation power of technology; and Northern Ireland is the perfect place to lead the way due to its manageable size, improving data and demonstrable public interest. Parallel sessions around each of the 6 themes of Making Life Better were held throughout the day as detailed in the table below.
The afternoon session began with a keynote address from David Finch, The Health Foundation, who considered health as an asset. Mr Finch discussed the current context for health and inequalities across the UK, the need for a focus on prevention and health creation, the economic value of health and then how we can reframe the conversations we have about health through the language we use.
Following the afternoon parallel sessions, delegates came together for a Q&A panel to consider our next steps. The panel included:
- Dr Naresh Chada, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health
- Professor Neil Gibson, Chief Economist, EY
- Dave Finch, Senior Fellow, Healthy Lives Team, The Health Foundation
- Dr Adrian Mairs, Director of Public Health (interim), The Public Health Agency
- Caroline Gillan, Head of Programme for Government, The Executive Office
Dr Adrian Mairs, Director of Public Health (interim), Public Health Agency, closed the conference noting both the interesting discussions started at the conference and also the challenges set to all of us working to improve health and wellbeing and what our next steps and considerations need to be. Dr Mairs noted the aim of the conference and of the Network, to bring stakeholders together, to re-energise action and to share information and learning with the view of discussing how best to move forward through strengthened partnerships and collaborative approaches. To help drive this, Dr Mairs committed, if there is willing, to making the MLB Conference an annual event and also announced the first MLB Seminar Series which will take place in autumn/winter 2019/20. Dr Mairs closed the conference thanking the keynote speakers, session speakers and organisers.