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New UCL Institute of Health Equity aims to narrow health gap

22 November 2011

New UCL Institute of Health Equity aims to narrow health gap

UCL has moved closer to reducing health inequality present in the UK after the launch of the new UCL Institute of Health Equity by Professor Sir Michael Marmot (UCL Epidemiology & Public Health) and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

Supported by UCL, the British Medical Association (BMA) and independently commissioned projects, the Institute will also receive £1 million funding from the Department of Health over the next three years.

Building on previous world-renowned research and reviews led by Professor Marmot such as The Whitehall Study and the Fair Society, Healthy Lives review, which underpinned the recent Public Health White Paper, the Institute will collect the latest evidence, providing expert advice and sharing best practice both locally and internationally.

Talking about the health disparity present in the UK, Lansley said: “A stark picture has emerged in this country over the past 20 years of a growing divide in the health outcomes between rich and poor. For example, men living in Blackpool can expect to live on average 11.5 years less than men living in Kensington and Chelsea.”

Highlighting the important role the Institute will play, he added: “The new Institute of Health Equity will provide invaluable advice and support for local organisations and health professionals during the transition to this fairer system.”

Speaking at the launch, Professor Marmot said: “Closing the Gap in a Generation and Fair Society, Healthy Lives set out a vision to empower people to have control over their lives. I am delighted to see work to tackle health inequalities integrated into the Government’s plans for public health.

A stark picture has emerged in this country over the past 20 years of a growing divide in the health outcomes between rich and poor.

Andrew Lansley

“The UCL Institute of Health Equity has a global remit to ensure population health is improved and health inequities are reduced within and between countries, through action on the social determinants of health. To enable individuals to be in control of their own lives action is needed on the social circumstances in which we are born, grow, live, work and age.”

The Institute has already started to help a number of local organisations take action on the social determinants of health to reduce health inequalities. It will ensure England remains at the forefront of international action and provide vital guidance and support to local organisations during the transition to Public Health England and the new NHS.

Professor Malcolm Grant, UCL President & Provost, said: “Health inequalities pose serious challenges locally, nationally and internationally and defy easy solutions. I therefore welcome with great enthusiasm the UCL Institute of Health Equity, which aims to assist in finding solutions and assessing the evidence to inform policies.”

Although the NHS remains a model for the rest of the world, the Institute will enable UCL to build on its “great strengths in global health and Michael Marmot’s outstanding leadership in the field of promoting a social determinants approach to reducing health inequity”, said Grant. “We will look to the Institute to assist in tackling this inequity.”

But there is still a way to go, as according to Lansley: “Health inequalities cannot be transformed overnight, but the work of Sir Michael Marmot and his team should help turn evidence into action and help improve the health of their local communities.”


UCL Institute of Health Equity
Institute of Health Equity coverage in the Guardian
Department of Health press release