Public health researchers under attack – editorial

Public health researchers are calling for greater integrity in policy making and an end to the attack strategies which have spilled out of the political sphere and into  academia. an editorial for the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health,  Prof Boyd Swinburn and Michael Moore decry the rise of attack politics the in public health sector.’s Simon Day covered the editorial for the news website. An excerpt (read in full here):

Scientists are ‘undermined by attack campaigns’ – expert

Public health is being jeopardised by conflicts of interest in government appointments and dirty politics, an obesity expert says.

In an editorial co-written for the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, published yesterday, Dr Boyd Swinburn says scientists who represent the voice of the public in policy-making are being shouted down by large commercial interests and their views suppressed by attack campaigns.

Swinburn, a Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health at the University of Auckland, is the most-recent expert to join criticism of what author Nicky Hager described in his Dirty Politics book as “an apparent systemic approach being used by the tobacco, alcohol and processed food industries in New Zealand to attack prominent public-health advocates”.

In the article, co-authored with Australian professor Michael Moore, Swinburn said: “A blanket of suppression is insidiously descending on the voices for public health.”

First, there were the interests of transnational corporations, and then there was the Government, which wanted to control public health information and messaging, Swinburn said.

While working in Australia’s Deakin University, Swinburn said he experienced efforts to have reports cancelled or watered down and funding pulled, and he said that had started happening in New Zealand.

“There needs to be voices that are based in science standing up to that and speaking on behalf of the public,” he said.

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The editorial was also the subject of a news article and feature story from New Zealand Doctor’s Virginia McMillian.