An Editorial published Online First and in this week's Lancet discusses the launch of the report by Sir Michael Marmot on health inequalities: Fair Society, Healthy Lives: The Marmot Review.
The Editorial says: "Can health equity become a reality? Yes, but only when health equity becomes a fundamental principle underlying national and local policies for health delivery, argues the Review. Since inequalities in health result from social inequalities, "action on health inequalities requires action across all the social determinants of health", the report states. Key to success is "proportionate universalism"-- actions must be proportionate to the degree of disadvantage, and hence applied in some degree to all people, rather than applied solely to the most disadvantaged."
It adds: "The premise behind the Marmot Review is that achieving health equity is a matter of fairness and social justice. Inequalities in health are directly related to inequalities in society and "the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age". Those who live in the poorest areas of England die, on average, 7 years earlier than people in the richest neighbourhoods. Moreover, the average difference in disability free life expectancy is a shocking 17 years between the poorest and richest areas. In total, between 1•3 and 2•5 million extra years of life could be gained by reducing health inequalities in England."
It concludes: "The question for political parties in the UK is to what extent they adopt the objectives outlined by Marmot as their blueprint for social, and therefore health, policy. The Marmot Review is a pivotal document for future policy on health equity. The question for voters later this year in the UK's general election is what sort of society do they want?"
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For full Editorial, see attached pdf
Note to editors: For Fair Society, Healthy Lives: The Marmot Review see www.marmot-review.org.uk