'Social injustice killing people', says report

A "toxic combination" of bad policies, economics and politics is killing people on a large scale, according to a new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Health inequalities are rife around the world and largely avoidable, WHO experts concluded after a three year investigation. Not only was the burden of ill health and early death shared unfairly on a global scale, but also within individual countries - including affluent nations such as the UK, said the WHO's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health.

The Commission brought together hundreds of researchers and other experts from universities, institutions, ministries and non-government organisations to contribute to the study.

Evidence from the UK included the fact that a boy born in the Calton suburb of Glasgow was likely to live, on average, 28 years less than one born a few miles away in Lenzie. Life expectancy at birth for men in Hampstead, north west London, was on average 11 years longer than it was for men born in the vicinity of nearby St Pancras railway station. Adult death rates were generally 2.5 times higher in the most deprived parts of the UK than in the most affluent.

An example from the US recorded the fact that 886,202 deaths would have been averted between 1991 and 2000 if death rates between white and black Americans had been equal.
Highlighting inequalities between different parts of the world, a girl born in Lesotho, Southern Africa, was likely to die 42 years younger than another born in Japan. In Sweden, one in 17,400 women died during childbirth, compared with one in eight in Afghanistan.

The report, Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity Through Action on the Social Determinants of Health, stressed that the reason for such inequalities was not biology but social environment.

Source - Independent

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