Health Inequality in the UK - Giving Everyone the Opportunity to Live a Healthy Life

World Health Day takes place on the 7th of April and this year’s focus is on raising awareness of different threats to our health. The World Health Organisation are inviting everyone to join their campaign for ‘building a fairer and healthier world’.

The pandemic and impact of Covid-19 has highlighted and brought to light many inequalities that exist in our world. These imbalances show that there is a distinct link between social deprivation and the ability to live a healthy life. 

The Office for National Statistics have released data which shows the number of deaths involving Covid-19 by local area and socioeconomic deprivation in 2020. In England, the age-standardised mortality rate of deaths involving Covid-19 in the most deprived areas was 128.3 deaths per 100,000 population; this was more than double the mortality rate in the least deprived areas. This evidently shows there is a distinguishable imbalance and many of these groups of people are more vulnerable when exposed to diseases. In addition to this, Covid-19 has also hit many other countries hard and affected those who have very little if any access to health care services. Similar patterns in statistics have been previously witnessed during flu outbreaks and chronic diseases, indicating this is an ever-growing issue.

Social deprivation is defined as the extent to which a person or community, lacks what they need to live a decent life. These factors can include where they work, their financial situation, where they live and accessibility to services or supplies. Some people may struggle due to poor housing conditions, lack of employment opportunities, little or no access to safe environments or nutrition. This can lead to suffering, illness and premature death which in turn harms our societies and economies.

To live a healthy life, all aspects of our wellbeing must be supported -Mental, Physical, Financial and Social. It’s important to consider our health as 4 pillars and each one will affect the other. For example, those living in socially deprived areas may have poor financial wellbeing with little access to education, low income, restricted access to food, and therefore not in a position to source nutritious foods on a regular basis. Physical wellbeing plays a huge role in our overall health, if we remove nutritious foods from our diet this can cause long-lasting effects including malnutrition. The least privileged are the most likely groups to suffer from malnutrition and its long-term consequences. Food Foundation has reported that over 60% of paediatricians surveyed throughout the UK in late 2016 said that food insecurity contributed to the ill health amongst children they treat. Whilst this is a significant problem in the UK, we are not on our own as 1 in 3 people in the world suffers from at least one form of malnutrition including vitamin and mineral deficiencies which impacts our overall health and ability to fight off diseases.

So, what can we do to support people to live a fairer and healthier life? 

The most logical way to tackle the inequality and imbalance of health in our society is by studying the 4 pillars of wellbeing and understanding how one will affect the other. We have just seen that poor financial wellbeing instantly influences physical wellbeing therefore, we have to tackle wellbeing holistically rather than trying to solve issues in the short-term. 

Not everyone is familiar with the term ‘Financial Wellbeing’ which is defined by CABA as ‘a sense of security and feeling as though you have enough money to meet your needs’. Education and understanding money can kick-start our financial wellbeing individually. 

Tools to get you started….

The Money Advice Service:

The Money Charity:

The above are free tools to get you started on your individual financial wellbeing journey. It’s important to consider that poor financial wellbeing can often impact us and effect how we feel mentally. Many organisations support financial wellbeing in the workplace including Cantium Business Solutions who can offer debt counselling for employees to support them in seeking viable solutions. 

Worries about money and other financial factors can cause us to become stressed. Stress can sometimes have nasty physical symptoms including concentration, insomnia, headaches and muscle tension.  Find out more about the effects of stress on our blog ‘The Effects of Stress: What Causes Burnout in the Workplace?

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