Being poor is bad for your heart

By June Shannon Policy News   |   7th Apr 2018

WHO calls for health for all on World Health Day 2018

April 7th, 2018

By June Shannon

“Health is a human right. No one should get sick and die just because they cannot access the health services they need.” Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General WHO.

Saturday 07 April is World Health Day 2018 and the theme for this year’s event which is run by the World Health Organisation (WHO), is ‘Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere’ and the slogan is #HealthforAll.

Universal health coverage is about ensuring all people can get quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.

According to the WHO, at least half the world’s population do not receive the essential health services they need and roughly 1 in 10 spend at least 10 per cent of their household budgets on health expenses, thereby incurring “catastrophic expenditures.”

The WHO believes that nobody should have to choose between death and financial hardship. No one should have to choose between buying medicine and buying food, but the sad reality is that many do.

“Health is a human right. No one should get sick and die just because they cannot access the health services they need.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General WHO

So, in its 70th anniversary year, the WHO is calling on world leaders to live up to the pledges they made when they agreed the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 and commit to concrete steps to advance the health of all people. This means ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship.

It is well known that being poor is bad for your health and as the famous 2010 UK report Fair Society, Healthy Lives -the Marmot Review (2010) stated “there is a social gradient in health – the lower a person’s social position, the worse his or her health.”

Numerous studies have shown that people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds have poorer health outcomes and poverty can have a direct impact on your heart.

The Institute of Public Health in Ireland calculated that in the Republic of Ireland incidence of stroke and heart disease was 2.2 times and 2.5 times higher respectively in the most deprived Local Health Office Areas (LHOs) compared to the least deprived.

A recent report from the National Longitudinal Study of Children found that children, particularly girls, from less socio-economically advantaged households were more likely to be overweight. The Report shows that 19 per cent of boys and 18 per cent of girls from professional households are overweight or obese. This increased to 29 per cent of boys and 38 per cent of girls from semi- and unskilled social-class households.

There is also evidence that doctors’ fees discourage some patients from seeing the doctor when they are sick.

The lower a person’s social position, the worse his or her health.

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The Irish Heart Foundation believes that a universal system of healthcare free at the point of access would be best suited to Ireland. Where all those using the system would contribute to costs through taxation or social insurance but would receive care free at the point of care.

Poverty directly effects health, reduces access to healthcare services and makes it harder for people with low incomes to lead healthy lives.

According to Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy at the Irish Heart Foundation “In particular we need to target resources to tackle childhood obesity in disadvantaged areas where this crisis is mainly rooted. Research has estimated that 85,000 children on the island will die prematurely as a result of overweight and obesity and children in the worst-off areas will bear the brunt of this unnecessary toll of misery and death.”

 

Children in the worst-off areas will bear the brunt of this unnecessary toll of misery and death.”

Chris Macey, Head of Advocacy, Irish Heart Foundation

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