‘If we want to achieve health equity, we need to put power back at the centre of communities’

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Dying Arts of Conversation Performance by Glenlough Community Group from Larne

By VIEWdigital co-founder Una Murphy

Health Inequalities still matter was the message from the recent 25th Annual General Meeting of the Community Development Health Network (CDHN)  in Belfast.

Professor Jennie Popay from Lancaster University told delegates at Crumlin Road Gaol: “If we want to achieve health equity, we need to put power back at the centre of communities.”

Joanne Morgan, Director of Community Development Health Network, left, with Professor Jennie Popay

She said that “peoples’ lived experiences” must be listened to in order to reduce health inequalities. It was a matter of social justice, Professor Popay added.

Speaking to VIEWdigital she added that too much blame was now placed on individuals for smoking and drinking, which was leading to the stigmatisation of poor neighbourhoods. Professor Popay said that with life expectancy stalling or reversing, the public health strategy was not succeeding in tackling health inequalities.

Social determinants on health such as employment and housing needed to high up the political agenda, with NHS resources used to promote local employment and the local economy, Professor Popay said.

She said money should be taken from dormant bank accounts to tackle health inequalities. She wanted more disruption and challenge with communities coming together to demand change.

Deirdre McCloskey Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership holding artwork produced by the group at CDHN AGM

“There must be a recognition that what we’re doing is not having a significant impact on health inequalities,” Professor Popay said.

CDHN director Joanne Morgan said the organisation had been set up 25 years ago “to be the voice of communities, to advocate for community development as a powerful tool in understanding and taking action on root causes of inequality.”

• Joanne was the guest editor of VIEW magazine on health in 2016.  Here’s a link to that edition: http://viewdigital.org/2016/04/01/fight-for-health-latest-issue-of-view/

• The latest VIEW magazine – on palliative care – was made available to conference delegates.  Read this edition here: http://viewdigital.org/2019/09/02/latest-issue-of-view-insight-into-palliative-care/

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