With so much talk about the need to address the social determinants of health, it’s good to see an effort to tackle an important problem that affects so many people.
A new app highlights the debilitating effects of “everyday racism”, according to this statement from Deakin University, and encourages people to live for a week in the life of an Aboriginal man, a Muslim woman, or an Indian student.
The app takes players through various scenarios challenging them to respond to instances of racial prejudice, from teasing or verbal abuse, to being ignored while ordering a coffee, or missing out on a promotion due to the character’s cultural background.
Associate Professor Yin Paradies said the app, developed with the national anti-racism charity All Together Now, the University of Western Sydney and University of Melbourne, drew on the real-life experience of people who shared their own stories of everyday racism.
“Everyday Racism is insidious because it is infused in the recurring aspects of our lives we don’t think about such as talk (including jokes), ringtones, memes, and behaviour, rather than the extreme incidents we are more familiar with,” he said.
It will be interesting to see what difference such an app might make. Maybe it could even find a use in education and training for health professionals.
Communicating the social determinants of health
While so much of the impenetrable jargon around the social determinants of health serves to limit the reach of the discussions, we could all learn a lot about effective SDOH communications from @TheKooriWoman (aka Kelly Briggs).
If you haven’t already read her article about the enduring impact of racist policies and the anxiety of Aboriginal mothers, then don’t miss it – here on her blog (and also cross posted at The Guardian).
Some similar themes are raised by this project profiling “The 10 Stories of Single Mothers” and illuminating “the terrible consequences” government cutbacks are having on children and families. Meanwhile, for those who missed the NSW Forum on the Social Determinants of Health last year, there is now a clip of the proceedings.
Tackling health inequalities
Meanwhile, the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences has released a collection of articles by social scientists identifying one policy intervention that they think local authorities could introduce to improve the health of the local population and reduce health inequalities.
While the focus is on the UK context, at least one of the authors is Australian, and some of the suggestions may be useful locally. They include early childhood education and care, the scope of adult and further education for reducing health inequalities, building age-friendly communities, and the use of participatory budgeting.
Tackling obesity means taking on industry infuence
The International Association for the Study of Obesity has released a policy brief for governments on challenges and opportunities for preventing obesity which recommends a ‘systems approach’ to creating health-promoting environments. These are defined as social, economic and policy environments as well as physical environments.
A systems approach requires the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders, including different government departments, the media, educators, the food industry, healthcare providers, leisure and entertainment companies, transport providers and urban planners.
The document also recommends working with civil society to challenge the market dominance and power of corporate interests. It notes that business interests are more likely than public health interest to have influence over policy making, and the significant role that industry lobbying has in undermining public health.
In 2012, for example, the US alcohol industry employed 256 lobbyists, the tobacco industry 174 lobbyists, and the food and beverage industry 327 lobbyists to influence the 553 members of the US Congress. It would be useful to know how the lobbying numbers and dollars stack up in Australia.
A took kit to aid complex collaborations
A toolkit, “Collaborating for Healthy Living”, has been released by the World Economic Forum and the Pan American Health Organization, in collaboration with Bain & Company.
According to the blurb:
“This toolkit is relevant for stakeholders from all sectors that wish to engage in joint action to promote Healthy Living. The document aims to provide guidance on, and serves as a resource for, successfully planning, managing and sustaining joint action. It includes proven project management tools, tailored to the needs of multistakeholder collaborations in the NCD context. We cover both “hard” and “soft” factors of making multistakeholder collaborations successful.”
On a related note, the WHO has released a Health in all policies framework which:
“provides countries with a practical means of enhancing a coherent approach to Health in All Policies (HiAP), particularly at a national level. HiAP is an approach on health-related rights and obligations. It improves accountability of policymakers for health impacts at all levels of policy-making. It includes an emphasis on the consequences of public policies on health systems, determinants of health, and well-being. It also contributes to sustainable development.”
Not that HiAP seems to be making much of a dent in international trade negotiations. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, whose adverse public health consequences have been well canvassed, is also looking like bad news for the environment, according to this report.
Critiquing health care
Australia’s own Professor Paul Glasziou (Bond University) is among the international leaders who features in a new oral history of evidence-based medicine, as reported here in JAMA. For a lively Twitter critique on same, see the recent #RealEBM Twitter chat.
VACCHO, the peak body for Aboriginal health in Victoria, has delivered a scathing assessment of Medicare Locals in its submission to the national review. It highlights a lack of clarity in the objectives and roles of MLs, and says many have failed to develop effective relationships with Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.
As the University of Sydney’s Julie Leask noted on Twitter, seven experts (including one woman) were asked to identify national health priorities for 2014 – for the AMA’s publication, Australian Medicine.
Interesting to see AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton put as his number one: Make population health a cross-portfolio priority for all levels of government. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the AMA put its muscle to work on this…
Picking up the issue raised by Julie Leask, don’t miss this article about sexism in science and academia by Jenny Martin, professor in structural biology at the University of Queensland.
After observing and experiencing many examples of sexism and harassment over the years, Professor Martin decided to get informed and get active (and Twitter played a part in this). Now she stands ready to call out sexism and bias. She wrote:
“I don’t want the next generation of academics – male and female alike – to feel that sexual harassment, discrimination on the basis of gender, objectification of women, and unconscious bias are acceptable in academia or elsewhere. Surely, if you have a mother, sister, female partner or daughter you would want them to have an equal opportunity to succeed, and to be treated respectfully by men.
So when you see it, say something. Call out sexism. It doesn’t belong in this millennium.”
And, finally, to end on another call to action. Writing in The Guardian, George Monbiot bemoans how comfort, complacency and consumerism appear to have sapped people power. While his protest is directed at British plans to crack down on antisocial behaviour, it resonates more widely (edited extracts follow)…
“Why do we tolerate a politics that offers no effective choice? That operates largely at the behest of millionaire funders, corporate power and a bullying media? Why, in an age in which people are no longer tortured and executed for criticising those in power, have we failed to create viable alternatives?
We appear to possess an almost limitless ability to sit back and watch as political life is seized by plutocrats; as the biosphere is trashed; as public services are killed or given to corporations; as workers are dragooned into zero-hours contracts.
Though there are a few wonderful exceptions, on the whole protest is muted and alternatives are shrugged away without examination. How did we acquire this superhuman passivity?
It is not hard to see how our elective impotence leads before long to tyranny. Without coherent popular movements, which are required to prevent opposition parties from falling into the clutches of millionaires and corporate lobbyists, almost any government would be tempted to engineer a nominally democratic police state. Freedom of all kinds is something we must use or lose. But we seem to have forgotten what it means.”
But read the full piece here…