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Box U - Can we learn how to reduce health inequities? Print E-mail

According to the Canadian Public Health Association, there’s increasing evidence we should be developing policies to reduce health inequities. Research shows the socio-economic environment has a powerful but potentially modifiable influence on health, and public policy could be used to change its impact for the better.

“The new evidence offers additional proof of a direct and powerful link between the social environment and health. Poverty, unemployment, education, living and working conditions, families, friends, workplaces, social support and physical environments all significantly affect health. How or why this happens is as yet imperfectly understood, but sufficient evidence has accumulated that the relationship can no longer be denied…..” (Canadian Public Health Agency, 1997).

Acknowledging the importance of socio-economic factors does not imply that genetics, lifestyle and health care are not important determinants of health. But it does highlight a sector that has not been the focus of much research by epidemiologists or health policy experts until recently.

The CPHA says the public-health community and government must “broaden the parameters of the health policy debate to include economic and social issues. The knowledge base for development and implementation of social and economic policies that could have a positive impact on reducing health inequities is in place. The next step will be to develop innovative policy tools that can translate this knowledge into action" (Canadian Public Health Agency, 1997). For more information please refer to:

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 March 2009 08:33