In the latest episode of “Health in Europe”, we speak with Dr Tracey Cooper, Chief Executive of Public Health Wales about health equity and the need for governments and policy-makers to bridge gaps to equity to strengthen the eventual recovery from the pandemic. The episode coincides with the final day of European Public Health Week, focusing on leaving no one behind in health.
This is the first episode in a mini-series on health equity that features interviews with representatives of ILGA Europe and the European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA) – as well as the National Institute of Public Health, the Institute for Economic Research and the Social Protection Institute of the Republic of Slovenia.
Recovering from the pandemic
During the episode, Dr Cooper highlights how health authorities took on a leadership role in responding to the infectious nature of the pandemic, but are now entering a new phase which requires tackling and mitigating the broader harms of the pandemic and reducing existing inequities, which have been exacerbated and threaten to undermine the recovery. These inequities include, but are not limited to: impacts on learning, underlying health conditions, living environments and loss of income.
While public health authorities are focused on the strengthening of health systems, tackling inequities has a broader impact on wider society. WHO’s European Office for Investment for Health and Development has taken a leading role, providing support to countries to monitor progress towards more equitable health.
This includes 5 essential conditions that have a significant impact on health inequities: health and health services, income security and social protection, living conditions, social and human capital, and employment and working conditions.
Leaving no one behind in health
Health equity is a fundamental part of the 3 core pillars of the European Programme of Work 2020–2025 – “United Action for Better Health in Europe”: better health and well-being, more people with universal health coverage and more people better protected from health emergencies.
By ensuring that health authorities and decision-makers put health equity at the centre of recovery plans, this can help ensure stronger health systems and more prosperous societies as a result.