By Jalil Safaei
The Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) discourse is getting more practical for improving the health of populations and reducing health inequalities. Following the WHO Commission on SDOH Report in 2008 (Closing the Gap in a Generation), which emphasized acting on SDOH, a recent significant report published by the British Academy for Humanities and Social Sciences titled – “If You Could Do One Thing …” Nine local actions to reduce health inequalities – identifies nine local actions that could be implemented at the local level to improve the community health and reduce health inequalities in the community.
The report consists of nine chapters, each devoted to a specific local action for reducing health inequality. The actions correspond to and address various social determinants of health and health inequality. They include:
- Implementing a living wage
- Increasing early childhood education
- Implementing 20 mph speed limits for cars in residential areas, by shops and schools
- Tackling health-related ‘worklessness’: a ‘health first’ approach
- Building ‘age-friendly’ communities and cities
- Using participatory budgeting to improve mental capital
- Improving the employment conditions of public sector workers
- Increasing the scope of adult and further education
- Evaluating policies for evidence of cost effectiveness
Written by prominent scholars from various social sciences, the report is a welcome and timely interdisciplinary document for guiding local actions to reduce health inequalities in the communities where people are born, live, work and age. The report provides evidential support to some of the initiatives suggested by our local public health advocates in British Columbia.
Jalil Safaei is a PHABC Board member and Associate Professor at the University of Northern British Columbia.