Improving health for all and reducing health inequities is a strategic goal for the WHO European Health Strategy Health 2020. Inequalities are interpreted and understood in different ways by sectors and agencies in Belfast. While there has been general improvement in health, not everyone has been able to avail fully of the benefits of this progress. Life expectancy of the population of Belfast varies across the city and is lower in more deprived areas.
Belfast Healthy Cities has delivered Health Equity in All Policies (HEiAP) with a range of organisations during Phase V (2009-2013) of the WHO Healthy Cities Network. HEiAP is one of two overall goals in Phase VI (2014-2018) requirements.
A workshop, Defining Inequalities and Poverty: Taking Cololective Action was jointly hosted by Belfast Healthy Cities & Belfast Strategic Partnership, to agree a definition of inequalities and to initiate the development of a tool to support organisations in the city to assess the impact of their policies and practice on inequalities and poverty. During small group discussion participants identified elements and components of equity and poverty to be incorporated into a framework for assessing developing policies and reviewing existing ones.
A draft tool has been developed and was initially tested by members of a small working group using a draft Belfast Healthy Cities policy. Further testing of the tool took place during a follow-up workshop with current local policies from Belfast City Council, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Belfast Strategic Partnership. A final draft of the tool will be piloted with a number of policies to fully test the use of the tool in screening for inequalities and poverty. This is a partnership approach across sectors to collaboratively address the impact of organisational policy on inequalities and poverty.
Resources from Defining Inequalities and Poverty: Taking Collective Action
Tackling Health Inequalities Together Mary Black, Public Health Agency
Working Together for a Better Swansea Penny Gruffydd, City and County of Swansea
Inequalities and Poverty: Developing a framework for a tool to assess action Erica Ison, WHO Expert Advisor