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Legitimizing and responsibilities of public health reports: public health reports or social court reports?

Legitimizing and responsibilities of public health reports: public health reports or social court reports?

Gesundheitswesen ) 58(11): 596-601

Since 1970 various initiatives have been taken to improve the information bases of health reporting. However, the efforts made up to now by the Länder, the Federal Government and its corporate bodies are characterised by a lack of experience and shortage of resources; moreover, they are viewed with a critical eye by the public and in the political area. In this contribution the authors describe various topics and delimitations of a health reporting system which go far beyond health statistics and health programmes altogether. The chances of a national health reporting system are based on the assumption that an objective judgement based on expert knowledge and science will be possible and that beyond all particularistic interests, expert knowledge can be organised in a democratic process. Public health reporting varies between two extremes: On the one hand, the current reporting in the media on health-related subjects which is characterised by disagreement among experts, particularistic interests and emotions, and on the other hand the national health reporting, which, on the platform of policy marketing and political image shaping, is suspected of degenerating to a kind of "royal court reporting". A health reporting system based on expert knowledge and characterised by topics with relevance to health policy, expert quality of its information and neutrality to particularistic interests, should go beyond these two extremes. Given the political conditions of budgeting and distribution conflicts, health reporting has to deal with two main aspects: effectiveness and efficiency of employed resources and with the problems of a fair distribution of these resources to provide equal chances in the health sector. What cannot be solved, by questions of procedure, however, is the problem of truth and objective knowledge as well as the problem of confidence. If the general public lacks confidence in national expert knowledge, a society discourse will not lead to political results. Additionally, the argument that medicine is of little importance for health is used to categorically reject a rational investigation of needs and thus to reduce the health system to the status of a modern religious doctrine. Proceeding on the assumption that due to systematic thinking and acting in the field of science, effective medicine symbolises one of the paradigms of progress, then health reporting system can be justified despite the precarious objective knowledge, provided such reporting generates the confidence it deserves thanks to its quality standards and seriousness.

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Accession: 046536450

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PMID: 9081498

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