UCL News


Sir Michael Marmot to lead major health review

17 November 2008


ucl.ac.uk/gheg/marmotreview" target="_self">Gordon Brown's speech
Alan Johnson's speech
Professor Sir Michael Marmot
Video streams from the Closing the Gap in a Generation conference
Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England Post 2010 (Marmot Review)

UCL Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, Sir Michael Marmot is to lead a major government review of health inequalities in England.

Secretary of State Alan Johnson announced the review at a two-day UCL conference, 'Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health.

Sir Michael, who also chairs the World Health Organisation's Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, will help the Department of Health to establish new targets for tackling inequalities up to 2020. He will draw on the Commission's recent report into the social determinants of health, which gave its name to the conference.

Johnson told delegates: "I believe that at an international level, we have to apply the same vigour and commitment to addressing inequality as our governments are currently applying to stabilising the world economy."

In his speech to the conference, Prime Minister Gordon Brown lent his support to the review.

"The health inequalities we are talking about are not only unjust, condemning millions of men, women and children to avoidable ill-health," he said. "They also limit the development and the prosperity of communities, whole nations and even continents. And so the challenge ahead is not to draw back from our ambitions, but to make them more urgent."

Brown personally thanked Sir Michael for his work in the global research he has undertaken on behalf of the Commission over the past decade. He had, Brown said, "done so much, and is globally renowned for everything he has achieved."

The review team will liaise with the Department of Health and national and local stakeholders to establish what can be achieved by 2015 and options for the longer term to 2020.

They will identify, for the health inequalities challenge facing England, the evidence most relevant to underpinning future policy and action and show how this could be translated into practice. They will also advise on possible objectives and measures, building on the experience of the current PSA target on infant mortality and life expectancy.

Their report will contribute to the development of the Department of Health's post-2010 health inequalities strategy.

Johnson will credit existing schemes, including nurse-led family partnerships, pioneered in the USA, that give intensive support to vulnerable first-time parents by working with other public and voluntary services to help build a secure and loving home; and The Street Cred project, currently being trialled in Tower Hamlets, which enables women to take out small loans to start social enterprises or businesses that benefit other women in the community. This initiative is based on a micro-credit scheme that originated in Bangladesh.

Sir Michael said: "It is unacceptable that a child born in some parts of Africa can live up to 50 years less than a child born in Japan; and it is unacceptable within the UK there are up to 28 years differences depending on where you live.

"Our report gave us the evidence we needed to act. We will be working out ways of making our globe a fairer place in which to live, because it doesn't and shouldn't have to be this way."

Brown concluded: "We will learn from other countries along the way, with our successful Sure Start programme addressing the health needs of infants, based on a programme from the United States, and our Health Trainers Scheme which reaches out to those people who are at the greatest risk of falling victim to ill-health, based on work done in Pakistan."

Click on the link above to watch the speeches and highlights of the conference.