Call to Action on Health Inequality
28 January 2010 at 1:57 pm
Radical action is needed to address staggering health inequalities rooted in socio-economic disadvantage, an international public health expert has told the Social Inclusion Conference in Melbourne.
Addressing the Federal Government’s Social Inclusion Conference on Thursday 28 January, Professor Sir Michael Marmot highlighted the difference in life expectancies between the world’s rich and poor – both within and between countries – to show how socio-economic inequalities lead to huge inequalities in health.
Marmot says there is no good reason why a 50 year life expectancy gap exists between women in Zimbabwe and Japan or why in the poorest part of Glasgow, life expectancy for men is 54 years, while only 11km away it is 82.
Professor Marmot is the Director of the International Institute for Society and Health Research, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London. He has led a research group on health inequalities for the past 30 years.
Professor Marmot says that it should not be just those in the health sector that care about health inequalities because health is a good marker for how a society is doing.
Marmot highlighted the impact social and economic inequalities have on health. He says so-called progressive tax systems have done very little to improve the economic conditions of the poor, and that these economic inequalities must to tackled to make a real change to health inequalities. He says whilst high income earners pay more income tax, lower income earners pay far more percentage of their income in consumption tax, and are therefore paying an overall higher percentage of their income in tax.
The 2-day Social Inclusion Conference is being hosted by the Federal Government. Its aim to is to exchange ideas, discuss topics and learn from participants on how to build a more socially inclusive Australia.