Report identifies key policies to address health inequities

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WHO

Researchers from the University of Liverpool working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Health Evidence Network (HEN) and the European Office for Investment for Health and Development (Venice, Italy) have published a report that highlights the key policies required for addressing the social determinants of health and health inequities.

The ‘HEN 52 synthesis report’ indicates that policies in relation to early child development, fair employment and decent work, social protection, and the living environment are likely to have the greatest impact.

The report, compiled by researchers from the University’s Department of Public Health and Policy led by Dr Ben Barr, identifies practical policy options for action on social determinants within these four areas.

Synergising efforts

Policy options focused on early childhood education and care; child poverty; investment strategies for an inclusive economy; active labour market programmes; working conditions; social cash transfers; affordable housing; and planning and regulatory mechanisms to improve air quality and mitigate climate change.

According to the report applying combinations of these policy options alongside effective governance for health equity should enable WHO European Region Member States to reduce health inequities and synergise efforts to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report informs a Roadmap to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development building on Health 2020, the WHO European health strategy and policy framework. The Roadmap is to be approved at the 67th WHO Regional Committee for Europe in September 2017.

Health divide

Dr Barr, said: “Improving public health and reducing health inequities are essential for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“Our report identifies key actions governments can take to achieve this aim, by improving child development, access to decent work, social protection and the environment.  Investment and integrated action across these four policy areas is needed now to reduce the health divide between poorer and more affluent groups in Europe."

Dr Christoph Hamelmann, head of the WHO European Office for Investment for Health and Development (the Venice Office) said: “The WHO European Member States have a unique opportunity to achieve their development goals by investing in these 4 policy areas and integrating action to maximise the health benefits for all.

"Health is a policy choice – this report will help everybody who wants to translate that choice into practice.”

The full report, entitled ‘Key policies for addressing the social determinants of health and health inequities’, can be found here.