Liverpool Public Health Observatory (LPHO) was founded in 1990 by Professor John Ashton. LPHO is a research and intelligence centre, commissioned by the Merseyside and Cheshire Directors of Public Health, through champs, the public health collaborative service, to provide public health research and intelligence to local authorities.
LPHO is situated within the University of Liverpool's Department of Public Health and Policy and is directed by Dr. Alex Scott-Samuel, a Senior Lecturer in Public Health who is also Director of EQUAL (the Equity in Health Research and Development Unit) and IMPACT (International Health Impact Assessment Consortium).
The term 'observatory' is used to convey standing back from phenomena and events and providing description, analysis and forecasting of patterns, interrelationships, processes and outcomes.
The tasks of those who work in public health are to optimise the health of populations with finite resources, and to plan, monitor and evaluate programmes of action whose goal is to protect, maintain, or improve health. In order to carry out these tasks, all those involved in public health work must have access not only to information, but to the intelligence which puts that information into perspective and gives meaning to it.
The term 'Public Health' has been defined as the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organised efforts of society.
Public health is seen to include not only health professionals and medical agencies, but also a wide variety of individuals and organisations whose activities have an impact on health. In contrast to clinical practice, the core public health focus is on defined populations, rather than on individuals. Public health acknowledges the impact on health of many activities and policies outside the health sector, as well as those involving health services.
LPHO applies a population perspective to health issues using appropriate methods from the public health and social science knowledge base. As a unit within the Division of Public Health and Policy at the University of Liverpool, LPHO staff have active links with a range of research and teaching programmes. The group is able to call on specialist inputs from other parts of the University, such as health economics, demography, medical geography, social science, policy analysis, graphic design and the media.
The LPHO Mission Statement
The principal purpose of the Observatory is the analysis, synthesis, and interpretation of health relevant information for those who make or influence policies affecting public health, whether they be in the public, private, or voluntary sectors.
The activities of the Observatory take three main forms:
- The collation and interpretation of existing information to provide intelligence.
- The supplementation of existing information by enquiries and special studies using epidemiological and social research methods.
- The dissemination of findings to the appropriate organisation, or to the public through the production of reports, scientific publications and other kinds of material and communication, including leaflets and brochures, courses, workshops and seminars.