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A Croakey challenge: send us your best ideas for COVID health equity memes

As Australia moves to ease COVID restrictions, we will do everything possible to ensure that those communities and people who will be at greatest risk will also have the greatest levels of support and protection from our governments and agencies.

Our investment in healthcare and social and financial supports for you and your communities will be proportionate to your needs. In other words, we will no longer tolerate the inverse care law.

Globally and locally, the pandemic has illustrated that health inequities are bad for everyone.

If overcrowded housing, unsafe working conditions, poor health literacy, institutional racism, or poverty increase someone’s risk of contracting and transmitting SARS-CoV-2, then everyone’s risk is increased.

The pandemic thus presents us, as policymakers and governments, with a rare opportunity to rethink how we do health going forward.

We have an opportunity to ensure that one of the legacies of this pandemic is an explicit and steadfast commitment to promoting health equity, health in all policies, and investment in the social and cultural determinants of health.”

Those are the words we are yet to hear from our political leaders at this crucial point in pandemic policy.

Why not?

There is no shortage of concern among health and medical experts and organisations, researchers and community leaders about the potential for health inequities to be further exacerbated in the coming months.

But are their concerns cutting through?

Perhaps it’s time for some cut-through memes, to help spread wider political and public understanding about health equity, and why it matters for everyone.

At Croakey we are fortunate to work with a talented graphic designer Mitchell Ward. He has offered to produce some catchy memes on COVID and health equity, for everyone’s use.

But we need your help.

What are the key messages?

What are some ideas for visual imagery and graphics?

Send us your best ideas, in return for a complimentary subscription to our weekly news bulletin. All contributions that are used will be credited appropriately.

To stimulate your thinking, read this recent article by Professor Anne Kavanagh, Professor Helen Dickinson and Professor Nancy Baxter.

They write:

Risks of COVID-19 infection, serious disease and death are not equitably distributed. They disproportionally cluster among the most disadvantaged. Vaccine access and uptake is also lower in many disadvantaged groups.

Opening the country at 80 percent without ensuring these groups have met or exceeded those targets will result in substantial avoidable illness and death.

Continuing our current strategy will mean that when we decide the time is right to ‘live with COVID’, many people who should have been the highest priority for vaccination could die.

We demand a rethink of our vaccine strategy to have an explicit focus on equitable vaccine allocation. Otherwise, it’s simply not ‘safe’ for many Australians to come out of Morrison’s proverbial cave.”

Also read these recent comments by John Paterson, CEO of Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory:

The targets suggested of 70 or 80 percent vaccination are totally fraudulent if applied to remote Australia.

They do not take into account already low and uneven vaccination levels; they do not take into account the demographics of a high number of children in our communities. These targets may or may not work in the northern beaches of Sydney: they would totally fail our people.”

And see the National Rural Health Alliance’s concerns, as per their recent statement, in which CEO Dr Gabrielle O’Kane raises serious concerns about the growing geographic disparity in vaccination rates, and seeks reassurance that governments won’t fail to protect the seven million residents in rural Australia.

She says:

From the Australian Government’s available data, it is evident that a significant proportion of regions with the lowest vaccination rates are in rural, regional and remote Australia, with many of these communities having less than 25 per cent of their people vaccinated.

This vaccination disparity is seriously concerning, which is why the Alliance has written to Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt to reinforce the Doherty’s finding that, ‘Achievement of these targets [70-80 per cent] at small area level will be critical to ensure equity of program impact, as ongoing outbreaks in under-vaccinated populations are reasonably anticipated from international experience’.”

The deadline for submissions to the Croakey meme challenge is Thursday, 9 September. We know it doesn’t give you a lot of time, but the need is urgent.


See Croakey’s archive of stories about health inequalities.

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