chi blogs

City Health International is delighted to announce we have establishing a blog on the website to promote debate and discussion around current issues of interest to the network. David MacKintosh, one of the founders of the network, will be writing a weekly piece, which will be posted here. We would also like to invite contributions to the blog from others with ideas and opinions on issues relating to health behaviours and urban health and well being and who wish to share with others. If you would like to contribute something, please send your contribution to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will ensure it is posted on the site and placed in the weekly City Health alerts sent to those in the network.

David's blog #8: Every Seat Tells a Story

You can find examples in almost every city, they come in many shapes and types, their popularity waxes and wanes, they can be stark, even ugly, deliberately uncomfortable or attractive, artistic even and ergonomic with consideration given to different populations and individual needs. They intersect my professional worlds of health and community safety policy. Their popularity, use and design tell us a great deal about urban problems and responses to these. Over recent months they have attracted a great deal of my attention and have achieved a new level of importance. This week I am going to consider the humble city bench. I would also like you to consider those in your area.

Read more ...

David's blog #7: Taking Politics Out of Health

For the last two weeks I have been on my travels, combining a holiday with visiting friends and family. This has seen me enjoying the sunshine in Florida, the cherry blossom of Washington DC and the delights of Pittsburgh. This former steel city is visibly reinventing itself after some twenty years in the doldrums. Political and civic leadership aided by a strong academic sector, tech industries and redevelopment of its riverside has given Pittsburgh a tangible air of optimism. It so happens that my arrival here coincided with the anniversary of the development of the first successful polio vaccine at the University of Pittsburgh by Dr Jonas Salk (announced to the world on 12 April 1955). Truly a major milestone in global public health. When asked about who owned the patent to the vaccine, Dr Salk replied, “Well the people I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?” A man of great ideals as well as medical expertise.

Read more ...

David's blog #6: Tomorrow’s World

When I was growing up in the 1970’s and ‘80’s there was a science programme on prime time television which highlighted the positive potential of new inventions and technology. In tone it was unrelentingly positive, despite the frequent mishaps as presenters and inventors experienced the challenges of demonstrating prototypes live on air. Although it attracted a degree of mockery, and no doubt much of its mass appeal did lie in watching demonstrations and experiments go wrong, it provided an upbeat vision of a future where we would all benefit. It was a distinct counterbalance against various other visions of the future we were offered via books, film or tv, which all seemed to be distinctly dystopian. There were various post nuclear apocalypse scenarios, global pandemics (the TV show Survivors had a profound impact on this eight year old) and of course there were concerns about resources running out, machines taking over, pollution threatening mankind, threats from outer space. The threats were considerable, some seeming more tangible than others. Yet you could reasonably argue that most societies looked forward with optimism (if not a little concern) and one of the big reasons for this was visible and demonstrable improvements in health.

Read more ...

David's blog #5: Crowning Glory

What colour would you use to describe the great advances in population health of the last hundred years? Perhaps something bright and cheery? A nice vibrant yellow, or perhaps a warm orange? As appropriate as these might seem I would argue the colour grey possesses a strong case. My reasoning? The massive increase in life expectancy we have witnessed and so the associated increase in grey heads to be seen amongst our populations.

In the 1900’s life expectancy in England and Wales was 46 for men and 50 for women. A century later these had increased to 77 and 81 respectively. Spectacular improvements by any standard. Not all countries have shared the benefits equally, progress is not even across countries or socio-economic groups. It is worth reminding ourselves that Africa saw a fall in life expectancy during the 1990’s due to the AIDS epidemic, which was only reversed when effective responses (political, social and medical) were deployed. Eastern Europe also suffered a drop-in life expectancy in the period of turmoil following the end of the Soviet era. These both serve as reminders that there is nothing inevitable about progress and improvement.

Read more ...

David's blog #4: Keeping focussed on the person.

The fact that cities and urban centres can increase stress in individuals is well recognised.  There is a correlation between living in a city and a range of mental health problems, although this doesn’t automatically mean urban life has to have a negative impact on our wellbeing.  Cities concentrate on a range of factors, both positive and negative. So, a city may suffer from pockets of deprivation, high rates of crime and pollution, but also provide good educational opportunities, access to modern medical care and stimulating public spaces.  However, as anyone who commutes through a big city will know there is a lot of stress about.

Read more ...

D.Mackintosh photoDavid MacKintosh is the Head of Community Safety for the City of London, and has also been the Policy Adviser/Director to the London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum (LDAPF) since 2001.  The LDAPF works to support policy delivery and promote good practice across the drugs, alcohol and community safety agendas.  He has been involved in a number of innovative campaigns around issues including drug driving, substance misuse in the workplace and improving awareness around drug safety in clubs and pubs. The LDAPF is funded by the City of London as part of its commitment to improving the life of all those who live and work in London.  For the last eight years he has also been seconded to the Greater London Authority to provide advice around substance use issues and health inequalities. 

Prior to this post David worked for the United Kingdom Anti-Drug Co-ordination Unit (part of the Cabinet Office) for two years, primarily on young people and treatment policy issues.  This followed on from some 8 years in the Department for Education and Skills where he worked in a number of areas including international relations and higher education policy. He spent ten years as chair of an East London based service provider and is currently a trustee of Adfam (families, drugs and alcohol) and the New Nicotine Alliance (which aims to improve public health by raising awareness of risk-reduced products).