Doctors call for co-ordinated policy initiatives to address Health Inequalities
Doctors representing the medical profession across the island of Ireland are calling on their governments, north and south, to lead the way in vigorously tackling health inequalities.
The Irish Medical Organisation [IMO] and the British Medical Association Northern Ireland [BMA (NI)] today, Wednesday, 7th March 2012, launched a joint policy document in the European Parliament, Brussels, setting out cogent recommendations and calling on the EU to use its influence to ensure that co-ordinated policy initiatives to address health inequalities are prioritised at national, regional and local level.
The joint document was introduced at the launch by Irish MEP, Mr. Sean Kelly.
In their document “Health Inequalities – The Medical Profession Highlight Their Concerns” the IMO and the BMA (NI) call for:
• Governments to ensure health inequalities are addressed in a holistic manner.
• Government policies to be “health proofed” through the use of Health Impact Assessments to ensure that policies potentially deleterious to health are engineered in such a way to have the maximal health benefit for as large a proportion of the population as possible.
• Governments to recognize that reducing health inequalities through reduction in societal inequalities is the best long-term investment that any Government can make on behalf of its citizens
• Recognise the importance of as large a proportion of the population as possible having rewarding, productive and secure employment, and urge their respective Governments to adopt policies that encourage growth.
IMO President, Dr. Ronan Boland said; “In addition to extending the lives of our citizens, policies that aim to reduce social and health inequalities will also have the effect of compressing morbidity in later years resulting in ‘adding more years to life and more life to years’. In order for this to happen, as many of our citizens as possible should feel that they belong and are needed as useful and important members of the society in which they live.”
He said; Average life expectancy at birth for traveller males is 15.1 years lower than the general male population and mortality rates among traveller men and infants are over 3 times higher than the general population.”
Dr. Boland said; “In Ireland evidence shows that lower socio-economic groups have relatively high mortality rates, higher levels of ill health and few opportunities and resources to adopt healthier lifestyles.”
Throughout Northern Ireland there is considerable evidence of health inequalities with average life expectancy differing by as much as six years between deprived areas and more affluent areas. Male life expectancy ranges from 73.5 in the most deprived areas to 79 years in the wealthiest and female life expectancy ranges from 79.6 years in the most deprived areas to 81.5 years in the wealthiest.
Dr. Paul Darragh, Chair of Council, BMA NI said; “Children from the poorest families are four times more likely to die before the age of twenty and fifteen times more likely to die in accidents.”
He said; “Health and wellbeing are inextricably linked. The greater the control and security a person feels, the greater is the wellbeing s/he experiences and the healthier s/he is likely to be.”
For further information contact:
Maria Murphy/Louise Canavan
Irish Medical Organisation
Tel: (01) 676 7273