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Sir Michael Marmot's
IHE team

Working for Health Equity: The Role of Health Professionals

Report abstract

This report demonstrates that the healthcare system and those working within it have an important and often under-utilised role in reducing health inequalities through action on the social determinants of health. The health workforce are, after all, well placed to initiate and develop services that take into account and attempt to improve the wider social context for patients and staff.  

The report discusses the best ways to reduce inequities through workforce education and training, practical actions to be taken during interactions with patients, ways of working in partnership, and the role of advocacy. It also includes a section on the health system, which analyses which mechanisms and structures are supportive of actions to reduce health inequality, and where further development might be needed.

Throughout the report, we have gathered a series of commitments by health workforce and other organisations to embed and develop action on the social determinants and these form the basis for an on-going programme of work led by IHE in partnership with royal colleges, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the BMA, and other organisations and institutions.  The report also provides statements for action developed by health professional organisations which seek to give practical accessible tools for particular professionals to develop and use in their roles.

On the 18th March 2013 we launched the report with a conference at the BMA. We have made available the presentations given at the launch conference, and news coverage of the report.

Cecil Wilson, president of the WMA, who spoke at the launch, has written a blog about the report, as have the Wellesley Institute, and Professor Sir Michael Marmot.

The full report and executive summary are available above. There are also some supporting documents available:

- The case studies from the report

- The commitments to action made by health organisations, which will form the basis of a programme of work

- A list of those royal colleges and other professional associations who contributed sections to the report.

IHE are co-ordinating a programme of work to build on this agenda. In the UK we are working with a number of health professional organisations to promote the social determinants of health. We are developing e-learning modules with the Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Physicians that will be accessed by members as part of their Continued Professional Development. This course will be interactive and include key information and skills that will help physicians to tackle the social determinants of health in their everyday work life.

We are also working internationally to promote the role of health professionals. Our Director is currently president of the World Medical Association who have recently adopted a declaration on the social determinants of health: the Declaration of Oslo. As part of his presidency we are writing a report on the role of doctors in tackling the social determinants of health and developing a MOOC in partnership with the BMJ.

By IHE Mar 2013