At the end of this month, unemployment insurance is set to expire for millions of workless Americans. Unless action is taken by congress to extend this service, by June there will be five million unemployed Americans, ineligible for benefits.
Jobs for America Now is connecting people to their Senators’ offices here. Tell your representatives to pass a full year extension of unemployment benefits and to increase aid to states for education, medicaid, and other vital services.
A new study published in the latest issue of Social Science & Medicine links poor health to job insecurity in 16 European countries. With results similar to findings from other studies, this research makes a unique contribution to the evidence base by investigating international differences.
Interestingly, the health consequences of having insecure work did not differ significantly across included countries. This suggests that even developed welfare states do not always buffer against the health impacts of job insecurity. Individual level factors such as age, sex, marital status, and previous chronic diseases, were investigated and also did not explain the association.
A major report published last week arms the UK with an evidence-based strategy for reducing health inequalities over the next 10 years. Commissioned by the government, the report, Fair Society, Healthy Lives, outlines six essential policy objectives:
- Give every child the best start in life
- Enable all children, young people to maximize their capabilities and have control over their lives
- Create fair employment and good work for all
- Enable healthy standards of living for all
- Create and develop healthy and sustainable places and communities
- Strengthen the role and impact of ill health prevention
Commissioner chair, Sir Michael Martmot, was asked by the Secretary of State for Health in November 2008 to identify the most effective strategies for reducing health inequalities in the UK. This report is the result of this effort.
The full report and executive summary can be downloaded here.
Medical care institutions are the typical target of health system reform. While these institutions can and do improve the quality of life of sick individuals, they do little to prevent or resolve major chronic problems like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Research from public health shows that efforts focused on behavioral change or lifestyle interventions are also inefficient. In order to make significant improvements in the health of populations we need to expand our strategies to address the political, economic, social, and cultural determinants of health. Dr. Vincent Navarro, a professor at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, identifies seven essential components of a national health system. He emphasizes that the empowerment of people should be at the root of each of these:
- Public policy to encourage participation and influence in society
- Economic and social determinants
- Cultural determinants
- Working life interventions
- Environmental and consumer protection interventions
- Secure and favorable conditions during childhood, adolescence and retirement
- Health care interventions that promote health
Source: Navarro, V. (2009) What we mean by social determinants of health, International Journal of Health Services, (39), 3, p423-441