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WATCH: Talk 200 launched by Professor Sir Chris Whitty

22 Feb 2024

Inaugural bicentenary lecture sheds light on health inequalities

Degree conferment Sir Chris Whitty

Professor Sir Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, launched the Talk 200 series on 13 February with 'Health inequalities past, present and future'.

In the first of the series of in-person and live-streamed lectures and recorded podcast episodes for our bicentenary celebrations, Professor Whitty considered the main drivers of inequalities and disparities in health, how these have changed over time, and why addressing them remains a major public health priority.

Professor Whitty was later joined for a discussion by a panel of experts, chaired by President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell and including Professor of Nursing, Dame Nicky Cullum and Jane Pilkington, Director of Population Health NHS Greater Manchester Integrated Care.

During the discussion, Professor Whitty highlighted the significant role our University has played in better understanding health inequalities: "The University of Manchester has over many years contributed so much to our understanding of both the epidemiology and the treatment of cancers.” However, he added, some cancers "are very strongly predicated on poverty."

He further emphasised the unique position of the University in addressing these health inequalities, saying: "Manchester has some of the best scientists, one of the largest medical schools, one of the most important areas of training for nursing and has also some of the greatest inequalities in the country." If you wanted to start to address these health inequalities, he said, "you couldn’t start in a better place."

In recognition of his services to public health, an honorary doctorate of medical science was conferred on Professor Whitty during the event. As the Chief Medical Officer for England, he plays a pivotal role in overseeing the country’s health matters. He is also the UK government’s Chief Medical Adviser and head of the public health profession. His illustrious career includes roles as Chief Scientific Adviser for the Department of Health and Social Care, and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for International Development.

The Talk 200 series will continue throughout 2024, marking our University’s bicentenary year. It will reflect on our past, celebrate its present, and look to the future. The lectures – including this launch event – and podcasts will be available to watch on demand on the Talk 200 webpage on our bicentenary website and available to listen to on all major podcast channels.