Health Inequality in Britain

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In society around the world these is debate about the inequalities in the health and healthcare that we observe among populations and among places. Research seeks to improve understanding of the causes of health variation. Such knowledge should provide evidence about how best to influence the causes of health inequality and produce health gain for human populations (Curtis, 2004, p 1-2).


The inequalities in the health of the nation (Townsend et al., 1988) have been subject to extensive debate and policy initiatives over a number of years. Many of the 'problems' and needs have been long identified but are still awaiting resolution. As long ago as 1980, the Black Report on inequalities in health reported that:
One of the most important dimensions of inequality in contemporary Britain is race. Immigrants to this country from the so-called New Commonwealth, whose ethnic identity is clearly visible in the color of their skin, are known to experience greater difficulty in finding work and adequate housing. Given these disabilities, it is to be expected that they might also record higher than average rates of mortality (Townsend et al., 1988:50).
"Health inequalities are the systematic, structural differences in health status between and within social groups within the population. The term "health inequalities" is closely linked to "social determinants of health" (Marmot and Wilkinson 1999) as it refers to the multiple influences upon health status, including socioeconomic status, diet, education, employment, housing, and income. It is thus concerned with the "causes of the causes" of disease. ...
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