Sustainable strategies for addressing health inequalities (F12)

A future we could have

Imagine a sunny autumn weekend in a not so distant future. You’ve had a stressful week at work and you could really use a day off to wander a beautiful alpine valley or maybe have a relaxing stroll at the seaside. You leave for your preferred destination by a train in the morning, you have a tasty and healthy meal after spending a majority of the day hiking and taking photos of scenic panoramas. On your return journey, you share the photos with your friends over social media – as is the norm. You arrive back home quite late completely exhausted. But also relaxed and without any anxieties that bothered you throughout the week. Now imagine the train ride, the tasty meal, and the data transferred to upload photos were all free of charge. Well, at the point of service at least. What would our world look like if we accepted the concept of universal basic services? We are already familiar with the concept when it comes to education and healthcare. Would expanding the array of services to include, for example, transportation, nutrition, and communication make our societies more equitable?

Considering universal basic services as an alternative to universal basic income was one of the concluding remarks of Sir Michael Marmot at the forum on sustainable strategies for addressing health inequalities. It definitely is a bold political choice, but could it be sustainable? Could it be effective? It is an interesting food for thought. But much of the discussion during the forum focused on actions that we can do here and now.

“Health inequalities require us to address the causes of the causes of the causes.”
By Michael Marmot, UCL

As Giuseppe Costa from Turin University pointed out, we are past the period when we merely analysed and measured inequalities in health. In last 10 years, we are talking more and more about policies and actions we can take to address the issue. Panelists at the forum identified a number of challenges and opportunities regarding strategies addressing health inequalities. INHERITproject is definitely an opportunity that can lead to major advances towards sustainable and equitable future. Another tool that promises a brighter future is European Pillar of Social Rights. And then there are the challenges. We need to work harder on capabilities, opportunities and motivation for change, as Caroline Costongs from EuroHealthNet pointed out. Trust needs to be established among stakeholders working on reducing health inequalities as well. Health inequalities are a complex issue in a complex system. The discussion held at the forum definitely proved that there is no easy way to solve the problem of health inequalities.

“Health inequalities are not only unfair and unjust, they are also costly.”
By Louise Boyle, EHFG

Sustainable strategies for addressing health inequalities are very much needed. There are many health benefits that could be gained if we managed to address inequalities appropriately. A lot still has to be done. Panelists that participated in the forum showed us that there is a way. Now we all need to walk the walk.

 

This Blog was written by the Young Gasteiner Matej Vinko

 

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