The World Health Organisation recognises that the greater the income gap between the rich and the poor, the greater the differences in their health. The social determinants of health identify the unfair and avoidable differences in health between people and communities.
These inequalities and social disadvantages span post codes; both rural and urban communities suffer the social consequences of low education, high unemployment, and poor access to appropriate housing. However Australia is unique in the Western world in that the health issues of rural and remote communities are compounded by poor access to means of communication, few transport options, and heightened exposure to environmental challenges.
But how do all these social and environmental factors contribute to disease?
This pertinent question was answered by a panel of experts ranging across multiple disciplines in the field of global health. They included:
Professor Peter Sainsbury (chair):
Peter Sainsbury is Director of Population Health in South Western Sydney, with extensive experience in medicine, health planning, sociology, health services management and public health.
Professor Paul Torzillo:
Paul Torzillo is a Senior Respiratory Physician and Intensive Care Physician in central Sydney. He has been involved in Aboriginal health since he was a medical student in the early 1970s. He is one of the directors of Health Habitat – improving the health of disadvantaged people, particularly children, by improving their housing and the condition of the living environment.
Dr Tim Senior:
Tim is a GP working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health at GP Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation. Tim’s interests are in general practice and primary care, particularly its role in working effectively in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. He successfully crowdfunded Wonky Health, a regular column at Croakey, looking at health effects of policy decisions. He has worked as a GP in the Northern Territory, Thursday Island and the UK.
Dr Jane Elizabeth Lloyd:
Dr Lloyd is a Research Fellow at the UNSW Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity whose focus is preventing illness and promoting health in at-risk groups and combating socially determined inequities in health status. Her research focuses on meeting the primary healthcare needs of marginalised groups including Aboriginal Australians and people with low health literacy.
A copy of the video is below: