As this earlier Croakey article outlined, questions were raised last year about the future of the Social Determinants of Health Alliance.
In this followup article, Lyn Morgain, the Chief Executive of Victoria’s cohealth, which is a member organisation of the Alliance, reports on the positive outcomes of the recent annual meeting of the Alliance.
As the newly appointed Chair, she invites ideas and interest ahead of a workshop to be held this month (February) that will explore future directions and new ways to gain traction within current political and policy debates.
See the World Health Organisation’s work on the social determinants of health, which it defines as:
…the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems.”
Lyn Morgain writes:
‘As health inequities ‘kill on a grand scale’, should an Alliance of organisations who share an interest in wanting to reduce inequities be allowed to die?’
That was the question considered at the AGM of the Social Determinants of Health Alliance (SDoHA) held in Sydney late last year.
This provocation elicited some very valuable feedback and engagement from both members and others interested. Essentially there was no disagreement that a strong voice for health inequity and an improved policy recognition of the structural causes of same, is urgently required.
Those present at the meeting all agreed that there was a critical and ongoing need for an alliance of organisations that focuses on SDoHA issues, especially in the months leading up to the 2019 federal election. The challenge of developing and maintaining an alliance that spans so very many sectors and interests ( many with their own immediate goals and challenges) was also discussed.
It was agreed that SDoHA needed to refine our messaging and approach, in order to ensure we gain traction within the current political and policy debates. Recognising our limited effectiveness in some areas – in particular to moving the political debate on health care beyond the ‘hospitals and Medicare’ narrative to a bigger focus on prevention and the clear link between inequality and illness. and illness – participants strongly felt reinvigoration was required.
I very much appreciate the effort taken by members to provide frank and constructive feedback. This will be useful in helping to formulate next steps.
It was agreed that I would take on the Chair role supported by cohealth and assist in providing the stewardship necessary to facilitate conversations across sector colleagues. This will enable the discussion, exploration and development required to move to the next stage.
Central issues include resourcing, refinement of objectives, messaging, and partnerships. A first step in enabling this, will be to convene a workshop, in February 2019 for key Alliance members and partner organisations to explore future directions.
Both Bret Hart, the former Chair, and I would like to thank all those who have contributed time and resources to the work of SDoHA. We hope that together we can formulate a new approach that best meets the needs of this time. In particular on behalf of the membership, I would like to acknowledge the work of Bret as Chair and ARACY as Secretariat in keeping the flame alive despite significant challenges.
I welcome and ideas, expressions of interest, partnership proposals and/or sources of future resourcing that might be included in our workshop discussion. I look forward to working with you all to progress the cause of the social determinants of health in public policy and seeing the related improvements in the health of our communities.
Please get in touch via email at SDoHA@aracy.org.au.