World Health Day is recognised on Wednesday 7 April this year and is focused on the theme of ‘building a fairer, healthier world”.
This year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) have chosen to mark this annual day by calling for a year of action to eliminate health inequalities. The campaign highlights WHO’s constitutional principle that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”
World Health Day is a global campaign that draws attention to the health inequalities that exist between and within different countries. Whilst as a Trust we only operate within Great Britain, our vision is a world without health inequalities and we understand the global context and importance of reducing health inequalities internationally.
People’s Health Trust will soon mark 10 years of working to tackle health inequalities across Great Britain. Our work has roots in the findings of the World Health Organisation’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2008), as well the seminal report Fair Society, Healthy Lives: A strategic review of health inequalities in England post-2010 (The Marmot Review). Over the past decade we have seen the conversation around health inequalities move on, and specifically there has been an increasing focus on the role of socio-economic inequalities.
As a charitable organisation with our roots in tackling health inequalities we wish to see every person being provided with an equal route to good health. To see this, we need to continue changing the narrative around health and how we address poor health outcomes.
The report ‘Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 Years On’ published in 2020 demonstrated that whilst the conversation around health inequalities had changed, the way we tackle them in England has largely remained the same with health inequalities widening and life expectancy stalling. There are still too few real attempts, in policy and practice, to address health inequalities and their fundamental causes. Health inequalities in Great Britain remain stark and public spending on preventative socio-economic factors associated with ill-health remains seriously low.
Health outcome data continues to demonstrate the severe impact of failing to address socio-economic inequalities, for example, the high level of disproportionate avoidable deaths in areas experiencing the highest levels of disadvantage.
We know that tackling health inequalities through the lens of the social determinants of health is essential which is why we specifically fund projects that address the social determinants of health in areas experiencing disadvantage, and work with groups of people who face additional barriers to good health due to discrimination and further inequality.
Our Active Communities 'Evaluating our Impact 2018' report, showed that participants of 93 per cent of projects had more friendships and connections as a result of being involved and 91 per cent said people felt less isolated.
We encourage resident-focused approaches as a means of addressing the underlying structural causes of health inequalities. Whilst most local, regional and national policies still do not focus on addressing health inequalities as a priority, it is even more important that local people and community organisations are able to find routes addressing issues within their area or community. We know that local people have clear ideas of what needs to happen to make where they live a better place.
However, tackling health inequalities through brave policies and strong cross-sector partnerships which place local people at the heart of decisions that affect them must also be a priority of governments across Great Britain. People’s Health Trust, as part of our continuing work and commitment to WHO’s World Health Day theme ‘building a fairer, healthier world’, is committed to expanding our campaigning around health inequalities to push for health equity.