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extreme weather events
flooding 2011
global health
NHS
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WHO
health
Healthcare and health reform
abortion
adverse events
aged care
allied health care
Australian Medical Association
cancer
cardiovascular disease
child health
Choosing Wisely
chronic diseases
co-payments
Cochrane Collaboration
complementary medicines
conflicts of interest
death and dying
diabetes
digital technology
disabilities
e-health
emergency departments and care
Equally Well
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health financing and costs
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HRT
infectious diseases
influenza
international medical graduates
journal articles
LGBTIQ
medical marijuana
Medicare Locals
men's health
mental health
MyHospitals website
National Commission of Audit 2014
National Health Performance Authority
naturopathy
NDIS
NHMRC
non communicable diseases
nurses and nursing
oral health
organ transplants
out of pocket costs
pain
palliative care
paramedics
pathology
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
pharmaceutical industry
pharmacy
Pregnancy and childbirth
primary health care
Primary Health Networks
private health insurance
quality and safety of health care
rural and remote health
screening
sexual health
social media and healthcare
suicide
surgery
swine flu
telehealth
tests
TGA
trauma
women's health
youth health
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#CTG10
#NTRC
Acknowledgement
cultural safety
Indigenous education
Lowitja Institute
NT Intervention
social and emotional wellbeing
Uluru Statement
WA community closures
News about Croakey
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Public health and population health
#PreventiveHealthStrategy
#UnmetNeedsinPublicHealth
air pollution
alcohol
consumer health matters
COVIDwrap
environmental health
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)
food and nutrition
gambling
Government 2.0
gun control
health communications
health impact assessment
Health in All Policies
health inequalities
health literacy
human rights
illicit drugs
injuries
legal issues
marriage equality
Media Doctor Australia
media-related issues
nanny state
National Preventive Health Agency
obesity
occupational health
physical activity
plain packaging
prevention
public health
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road safety
sport
sugar tax
tobacco control
transport
vaccination
violence
Web 2.0
weight loss products
Royal Commission
Social determinants of health
discrimination
education
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NBN
Newstart
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An expert’s tips for getting health inequalities onto the agenda

Continuing the Croakey series on health inequalities (previous articles here and here), today we’ve asked a health communications expert for some tips on how to get the issue onto the public, policy, political and professional agenda.

Dr Mark Ragg, director of Ragg Ahmed, writes:

“We’ve all seen, and many of us would have exploited at various times in our careers, the 6pm chemo kids. Those cute pale pre-schoolers, parents beside them, whose telegenic faces scream ‘GIVE THIS HOSPITAL MORE MONEY FOR LEUKAEMIA RESEARCH’.

That child has suffered one injury – cancer. And there’s one response – give money. In terms of marketing an idea – and that’s what a lot of efforts to change policy and practice are about – that’s pretty straightforward. Not for the parents, not for the child, but for the hospital.

But how do you deal with the child who’s so obese her diabetes is already knocking on the door and who’s dad says Macca’s is cheap and whose mum said see you later and who lives in a flat and there’s no park nearby and the school’s on the slide and the buses don’t run on weekends and on top of everything else whose genes are singing the opening bars of bipolar disorder and dodgy arteries?

What’s the problem? What can you do?

That’s how it is with health inequalities. They’re not an event, or an injury, or a one-off anything at all really. Cancer is waterboarding, but health inequalities are a slow drip, a Chinese water torture, of the lucky dip of birth, early random events, entrenched disadvantage, labour market policy, cramped horizons, government views on redistribution of wealth, haphazard illness, social attitudes, planning policies, educational inequalities, health system access and attitudes … the drips go on. Eventually, they wear you away.

What exactly is the problem? What can you do?

It’s all complex, but persistence works. It’s worked with smoking, it’s worked with heart disease and it’s worked with SIDS. This is harder, because it’s more nebulous, but persistence will out.

We need to continue to try to make the invisible visible. Apply the inequality filter at every step. Use buzzwords – connectedness, social capital, networking, superclinics – and ask whether they will reduce health inequalities. Look at health literacy – a vehicle for reducing inequalities if ever there was one – and keep pressing the responsibilities of providers of health information, health services and health care to work to reduce inequalities.

Use clarity, repetition, persuasiveness, making the case over and over again, reminding people.

There’s nothing that can’t be done, with time, effort and persistence. Who’d have thought, five years ago, that a federal government would commit $100 million to trying to reduce smoking among Indigenous peoples?

There is a way. It just takes the will.”

Comments 2

  1. Captain Col says:

    One suggestion would be to get questions asked on Q&A. This was the point of discussion on Crikey a couple of weeks ago when a group of ex-Servicemen and ex-public servants were offered three places in the audience to ask Lindsay Tanner to change the method of indexing pensions. Before the show they started an email campaign to all those affected to lobby Q&A and politicians. Tony Jones said he was amazed at the interest shown by the number of emails so felt obliged to allow a question. It was an issue that would never normally make it into this sort of show or even get much from the main stream media.

    Crikey bloggers thought this was wrong accusing Q&A of falling for a stack. Lots of subsequent discussion and eventually Q&A responded with an article in The Drum referring to this and other issues about how the audience is selected, essentially showing they strive for balanced audiences.

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2010/02/16/a-stack-on-q-and-a/

    http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2010/02/23/smeared-by-jonathan-greens-left-wing-taxpayer-funded-website/

  2. Leo Braun says:

    “Today we’ve asked a health communications expert for some tips on how to get the issue onto the public, policy, political and professional agenda”! Dr Ragg writes: “We’ve all seen, and many of us would have exploited at various times in our careers”… http://blogs.crikey.com.au/croakey/2009/12/03/what-rights-do-cancer-patients-have/#comment-1615

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