Reflects on three years′ experience of Annual Reports on the Public Health. Argues that the material benefits do not warrant an overly substantial amount of dedicated time – a five‐year strategic public health programme, supported by a periodic cross‐sectional analysis, is more appropriate and would exploit much wider sources of data than those generally appearing in Annual Reports, Considers the value of the Decennial Census of Population, as a data source. Suggests that it must be used in conjunction with other sources of “hard” data. Also argues that methods for collecting and incorporating qualitative data must be developed, together with a framework for informed policy analysis, which would facilitate a participative dialogue compatible with the aims of the “new” public health.
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