Published: 20/03/2003, Volume II3, No. 5847 Page 9

Ministers this week announced an unprecedented£250m push to rid Scotland of its 'sick man of Europe' tag.

For the first time, all levels of government in Scotland, the health service and the voluntary and private sector are being urged to work together to create a healthier nation.

The framework, Improving Health in Scotland: the challenge, which was published on Monday, sets out four priority areas and five risk factors.

As revealed by HSJ last year, these are early years, teenage transition, workplace health, and communities.

The specific risk factors to be tackled in Scotland are tobacco, alcohol, low intake of fruit and vegetables, physical activity levels and obesity.

Deputy first minister Jim Wallace said the document called for 'a seismic change in the way we as individuals view our health' which would bring enormous benefits.

The framework highlights 44 action points, including making health improvement a key consideration in public sector planning and promoting healthy lifestyles.

The challenge is backed by more than£250m over the next three years, including£173m announced in the Scottish budget in September.

Scotland is the first country in the UK to have a framework explicitly dedicated to improving health, due to its poor health record in international terms and compared to other parts of Britain.