The Southgate Institute hosted a visit by Sir Michael Marmot on 10 – 11 April 2017. Sir Michael is a world leading researcher on health equity and is Professor of Epidemiology at University College London and immediate past President of the World Medical Association. He is also an Associate Investigator on Southgate Institute’s 5 year NHMRC-funded Health in All Policies Research Project – ‘Does a Health in All Policies approach improve health, wellbeing and equity?’
On Monday 10 April, Sir Michael presented a guest lecture on Global Perspectives on Health Equity. Sir Michael examined the causes of poor health, based on his research and international reviews of the social gradient in health, and inequities arising from the conditions in which people are born, live, work and age. It was an inspiring and engaging presentation to a full lecture theatre.
On Tuesday 11 April, the Southgate Institute held a Symposium on Policies for Health Equity. Sir Michael discussed the social gradient in health, health inequity and its impacts on health, wellbeing and life expectancy, and the importance of addressing the social determinants of health to tackle health inequities in the community, as well as to reduce pressure on over-stretched health and hospital services. He critiqued approaches that did not address the causes of the causes of poor health and lower life expectancy between groups. Sir Michael inspired the audience with his passion and commitment, as well as his humour and wisdom, and received a standing ovation.
The Symposium also included presentations and panel discussions between a number of key academics and public sector officers on the challenges, benefits and outcomes of intersectoral action for health equity, with a particular focus on the Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach in SA. Dr Toni Delany-Crowe and Carmel Williams (SA Health) presented reflections on the challenges and benefits of the academic/public sector partnerships that have been formed around the NHMRC-funded HiAP research. This was followed by a panel discussion on the challenges and benefits of working with HiAP through specific case studies. Professor Fran Baum presented on the findings of the research into the outcomes of HiAP in SA, and its contribution to improving population health and wellbeing, and health equity. This was followed by a discussion of the findings of the research and the challenges and benefits of HiAP as an intersectoral mechanism to make government policy and improve the way government agencies work together to address policy problems. The final panel session reflected on the challenges for government of addressing health inequity, and the role of the non-government sector, courageous leaders, and the community in advocating for health equity to be raised on the government agenda.
Professor Sharon Friel, Professor of Health Equity at the ANU undertook the role of critical friend for the day, reflecting on the discussion at different points throughout the Symposium and posing thoughtful critical questions about the research, the HiAP initiative and broader movements to achieve health equity.
The full symposium and Sir Michael’s special lecture were livestreamed and are available on the Southgate Institute HiAP Project website http://www.flinders.edu.au/medicine/sites/southgate/research/health-equity-and-policy/hiap.cfm