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The ideal minister of (public) health
  1. N Pearce
  1. Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University Wellington Campus, Private Box 756 Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor N Pearce; n.e.pearce{at}

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Should be in a minister of public health, not a minister of health

I am going to answer this question indirectly, for two reasons. Firstly, because I don’t think it is possible to make a prescription for the ideal minister of health as so much depends on personal skills and the current circumstances (apart from the need for her/him to be electable!). Some of the best New Zealand ministers of health have had no obvious qualifications for the job, whereas other ministers with more relevant backgrounds (in medicine or nursing) have been less successful. The second, and more important, reason is that I don’t think the question can be answered without first discussing what the role of the health services would ideally be.

The fundamental problem for ministers of health, as well as public health researchers and policy makers, is that …

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