Global, News, Policy

Call for national governments to address determinants of health

An in-depth paper published in The Lancet this February urges policy makers to recognise and address global political determinants of health inequity.  “Grave health inequity is morally unacceptable,” the authors say; it is a “global political responsibility” to ensure “transnational activity does not hinder people from attaining their full health potential.”   global-governance-for-health   The paper, produced by the Commission on Global Governance for Health challenges the ‘biological’ argument for health inequalities and places the main responsibility for them firmly at the feet of national governments around the world; calling on them to redress the imbalance of fairness and justice that currently exist.  “Despite large gains in health over the past few decades, the distribution of health risks worldwide remains extremely and unacceptably uneven,” say the paper’s authors. “Health equity should be a cross-sectoral political concern, since the health sector cannot address these challenges alone”. The Commission recognises the crucial role of the health sector in addressing health inequalities it points out that the sectors efforts  “often come into conflict with powerful global actors in pursuit of other interests such as protection of national security, safeguarding of sovereignty, or economic goals.” “This is a timely development for the discourse about our health and the wellbeing of our planet,” says HPF Executive Director Sione Tu’itahi. “What happens at the international level impacts directly on the local level, whether we like it or not: take global warming and trade, for example. Worldwide political determinants are rising fast but our governance and policy framework are still largely focused on local and national interests at the expense of our collective wellbeing. As a global family, we can no longer afford to focus on the room that we occupy when the whole house is battered by the storm.”   The political origins of health inequity: prospects for change The Lancet, Volume 383, Issue 9917, Pages 630 – 667, 15 February 2014 Access the article online at The Lancet here (you will need to register, but it is free)   1 May 2014 By: Sione Tu’itahi Edited: Jo Lawrence-King