The University City London’s Institute of Health Equity (IHE) published a report exploring actions the Health Workforce can take to positively influence the social determinants of health and tackle health inequalities. EPHA responded to the consultation launched on the report highlighting the EU perspective.
– [EPHA position on the Role of the Health Workforce in Tackling Health Inequalities: Action on the social determinants of health
Health workforce and healthcare systems have an important role to play in reducing health inequalities through systematic and effective action on the wider social context of their patients. By virtue of having unique access to the population, combined with trust and a well-recognised position in communities, health professionals are crucial points in the life course of individuals, both during illness and most importantly – something that has not yet been fully explored – during the healthy stages of life as well.
Our key messages
– work cross-sector and in partnership with other areas
– advocate and influence policy from the healthcare sector in order to influence local, regional, national but also European and international policy and decision making, and to promote the European value of solidarity
– professional associations’ support to the social determinants of health dimension can have an impact in social platforms and networks debating poverty, civil society and democracy; shaping and lending support to a variety of not traditionally health-considered subjects of European relevance
– Collect and use information – however, there must be a proper consideration of data protection and ethical deliberations concerning sensitive and personal information. This relates to a great extent to eHealth and ICT technologies currently used or being scaled up in the health sector
– Refer to initiatives and services that have a positive impact on the social determinants of health – including childcare and education, employment, housing, family support, nutrition. Other health services in areas of particular importance for dealing with core factors of a healthy lifestyle should also be taken on board
In addition, EPHA’s response covers issues of maternity and paternity leave; early-years developments and child-friendly health and social services; working with marginalised groups; and influencing policy on a number of social determinants of health under the ordinance of services of general interest like water, sanitation, public transport, fuel, food, climate change, chemicals and environments.
We also argued for community-based pharmacists, stronger role for nurses and the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) community, as well as dieticians and nutritionists to be included while considering health workforce reply to health inequalities. EPHA believes too that cooperation with trade unions, employers, retailers, media, teachers, farmers, church workers, local public procurement services, businesses and entrepreneurs could be an important asset.
For more information on the UCL Institute of Health Equity and a range of reports prepared by the Marmot Review Team, please go to IHE website.