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Health Inequalities - Essay Example

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Tackling health inequalities is very important because first and foremost, health inequalities are preventable and are basically unfair. Thus, the whole of Government is doing its best to narrow down the health gap between underprivileged groups, communities and the rest of the country, as well as improving health overall (Introduction to health inequalities, 2005)…
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Health Inequalities Essay
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"Health Inequalities"

Download file to see previous pages This document lays the foundation for achieving the Public Service Agreement (PSA) target to reduce inequalities in health outcomes by 10 per cent by 2010, as measured by infant mortality and life expectancy at birth (Intro to health inequalities, 2005).
'Health inequalities' are the differences found in different aspects of health between different groups in society, the differences in health between those who are rich and poor in society. During the last twenty years, in general population terms, life expectancy and prosperity have increased and death rates from major diseases have fallen (Judge et al, 2002). Despite the government's commitment to tackle the problem, health inequalities in Britain continued to increase, according to new research from the University of Bristol, published in this week's BMJ. Inequalities in health widened in the 1980s and 1990s, and the current government has repeatedly expressed its intention to reduce these inequalities. In February 2001 it announced national targets to reduce the gap in infant mortality across social groups and to raise life expectancy in the most disadvantaged areas faster than elsewhere by 2010. But the new 10-year analysis by Dr Mary Shaw and colleagues in the Department of Social Medicine and the University of Sheffield shows that inequalities in life expectancy have continued to widen in the early years of the 21st century, alongside a general trend of widening inequalities in income and wealth. (Health inequalities continue to widen, 2005). This health gap between different socio-economic groups exists virtually irrespective of the type of health indicator and socio-economic measures chosen for comparison and analysis. Furthermore, those who benefit most from social, fiscal and health advances are usually not those who are in greatest need. Inequalities in health are observed for a wide range of health outcomes. They are found in self-reported health measures, objective measures such as death and illness and in access to services. They are also evident across the lifespan throughout childhood, adulthood and old age (Judge et al, 2002). Broadly speaking, there are three types of inequality in health (Wider determinants, 2005):

1. Inequality in access to health care (for example, refugees in London often have
difficulty in obtaining primary health care).

2. Inequalities in health/health outcomes (for example, there are six years' difference in
average life expectancy at birth between the boroughs in London).

3. Inequalities in the determinants of health (for example, in education, employment or
housing).


Life expectancy continues to rise in the most advantaged areas of the country at a faster pace than in the poorest areas. Amongst men, for example, the difference between the local authority with the lowest life expectancy (Glasgow City) and the one with the highest (East Dorset) has risen to 11 years. Income inequalities also rose markedly in the 1980s and have been sustained throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, although encouragingly a fall in income inequalities in the most recent time period can be seen. However, income inequalities are such that the poorest 10% in society now receive 3% of the nation's total income, whereas the richest 10% receive ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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