Social determinants & health inequalities

By: Public Health  05/12/2011
Keywords: Health Service, Currently Working, Health Service Executive

Health inequalities are preventable and unjust differences in health status experienced by certain population groups. People in lower socio-economic groups are more likely to experience chronic ill-health and die earlier than those who are more advantaged. Health inequalities are not only apparent between people of different socio-economic groups – they exist between different genders and different ethnic groups.

Health inequalities are generally observed along a social gradient. This means that the better your social circumstances, such as higher income or education, the better your chance of enjoying good health and a longer life. There is considerable evidence of health inequalities in Ireland and Northern Ireland (hyperlink with stats page)

The causes of health inequality are complex but they do not arise by chance.  The social, economic and environmental conditions in which we live strongly influence health. These conditions are known as the social determinants of health, and are largely the results of public policy.

IPH work on social determinants and health inequalities

IPH develops quality policy-relevant evidence on health inequalities on the island. We also support the evaluation of initiatives that tackle inequalities (link) to help extract information on what works. We then support the translation of this knowledge into policy and practice. (link)

IPH supports the development of policies to reduce health inequalities through

  • responses to government policy and consultations (link)
  • contributing to working groups and committees relevant to health inequalities
  • health impact assessment (link)
  • supporting the implementation of government health and social inclusion policies
  • producing policy briefings

At European level, we are the Irish partner in the Crossing the Bridges project (link) which is developing coordinated and strengthened efforts to tackle health inequalities across Europe.

IPH partners on social determinants and health inequalities

IPH is currently working with

  • Department of Health (ROI)
  • Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (NI)
  • Public Health Agency
  • Health Service Executive (HSE) Health Inequalities Group
  • UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI) led by QUB
  • Department of Energy, Communications and Natural Resources
  • Department of Social Protection

Keywords: Currently Working, Health Impact, Health Impact Assessment, Health Service, Health Service Executive, Impact Assessment, Public Health, Public Safety, social services

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