Tuesday, 1 Feb 2022  |  Reading time:  11 mins  | Read online

Health inequalities

Each week we focus on a different global topic, highlighting innovative content and insights from LGIU and our members around the world.  

This week's Global Local Recap focuses on global health inequalities. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted and exacerbated health inequalities, significantly impacting many people but also creating a new impetus to address the root causes more comprehensively than before.

We’re sharing a brand new research paper with you that presents the extent of this issue and the key ways in which local government can help to address it. The paper is accompanied by short briefs providing key context such as what is meant by health inequalities.

This week’s Recap spotlights innovative local policy examples addressing urgent global health challenges – from ensuring equal access to essential services in Finland to developing equitable building standards in the USA.

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This week's featured content

Still unequal: dealing with health inequalities through the pandemic and beyond

By Janet Sillett, former LGIU Head of Briefings

In this long read for the LGIU’s Local Democracy Research Centre, Janet Sillett examines health inequalities as we understood them before the pandemic, the impact of Covid-19, and what we can do about them.

This paper considers:

  • the background of health inequalities research and policy development,
  • the crucial role of local government,
  • and the impact of Covid-19 including a closer look at places in the UK and around the world as well the differential impact on minority communities.

Throughout we provide backgrounders on this complex policy area and spotlight places that are designing research to understand and take action on inequity.

It concludes with recommendations for all levels of government and key questions that locally elected representatives can use to drive ambition in their own areas.

LGIU Global Local Highlights


New Zealand’s wellbeing budget: a good PR story or a contributor to improved wellbeing?

The New Zealand Government made a commitment to adopting a wellbeing budget in the 2018 budget speech, and many are now feeling impatient with the lack of change, but perhaps there is more behind the delay? 
Read our content here.

Improving vaccine and testing uptake: global case studies

Throughout the pandemic, local and national governments worldwide have been working to improve equitable access to Covid-19 information, testing and vaccines for all communities. This blog highlights a number of pandemic best practices from around the globe. 
Read this blog here.

Air pollution and mental health: four ways to prevent a health crisis

Climate change is having a devastating impact on human health around the world, both in terms of physical and mental health conditions. This briefing examines four successful ways in which local authorities across Europe are addressing the issue of air pollution within their cities. 
Read this briefing here.

Innovation & Inspiration

Curated case studies and news from around the globe

Finland: Pandemic lessons help improve equal access to municipal services

A joint research project is highlighting the challenges faced by people with disabilities and people of migrant origin in Finland during the Covid-19 pandemic. The project's findings are intended to help improve municipal services and networks to better support people in one or both of these groups in future crises. Initial survey findings emphasise the importance of multilingual, simple language and multichannel communications to ensure that people who have migrated to Finland can access essential health services.
The Finnish Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (Kehitysvammaliitto) / The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare – Twitter

New Zealand: Smokefree goal seeks to stop inequities in smoking rates and linked illnesses

The New Zealand Government has released a four-year ‘Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan’ to help achieve its goal of less than five per cent of New Zealanders being smokers by 2025. Key focus areas include making Māori leadership central to the plan, providing wraparound support such as tailored services for Pacific communities and only making low-level nicotine smoked tobacco products available for sale to make quitting easier. Many local governments have taken action through policies and bylaws restricting smoking in outdoor dining areas, event spaces and council premises.
New Zealand Ministry of Health / The New Zealand Medical Journal / George Thomson & Nick Wilson

Related: Bandung, Indonesia, tackles rising smoking rates by creating eight new types of smokefree areas  Partnership for Healthy Cities

Peru: Local policies boost access to healthy food in schools and restaurants

The Metropolitan Municipality ofLima unanimously passed innovative local legislation last year to tackle rising child obesity. Under the new ordinance, schools must offer only healthy food and drinks to students and provide access to drinking water, while unhealthy foods cannot be sold or advertised within 200 metres. Meanwhile, restaurant menus are encouraged to include at least 20% healthy food and clearly display food calorie counts in return for promotion of the restaurant through an incentivisation initiative. Salt shakers and condiments should only be provided when requested.
World Health Organization / Partnership for Healthy Cities

USA: Building decarbonisation coalition advances health and climate equity

A group of 33 USA-wide state and local governments have joined forces to inclusively create and implement equitable building performance standards. The new standards seek to improve community health, affordable housing access and energy costs, while reducing carbon emissions and air pollution. Participants in the newly-launched National Building Performance Standards Coalition will also develop linked policies and initiatives that are relevant to local needs, with the aim of legislation and/or regulation being adopted by Earth Day (22 April) 2024.
National BPS Coalition

Related: USA state-community data sharing partnerships support equitable health policy development Data Across Sectors for Health

Policy & Resources

Key recommendations for councils in our new research paper include: integrating health considerations for all communities across all policies, funding prevention, and monitoring strategies effectively. This week, we’re highlighting examples of these approaches in practice around the globe. 

Health in all Policies (HiAP): The American Public Health Association published a HiAP guide for state and local governments, along with USA case studies and resources. Warwickshire County Council, UK, provides a helpful HiAP toolkit, while the City of Richmond, California, USA, outlines the impact of integrating HiAP over a six-year period. Finally, the Kansas Health Institute, USA, explores how to frame HiAP so that it resonates with communities.

Prevention: A recent Cambridge Public Health report identifies 134 cost-effective UK preventive public health interventions and why some are more effective than others. Cancer Council WA, Australia, presents cancer prevention actions that local governments can take and relevant case studies. The Australian Government’s 10-year National Preventive Health Strategy outlines root causes of poor health, the value of prevention, and focus actions. 

Local health equity strategies: The City of Vancouver, Canada, tracked progress on 23 health indicators in its Healthy City Dashboard, from community food assets to enhanced natural areas. The USA City of Boston's new Health Equity Now Plan highlights how Covid-19 exacerbated inequities and sets out 18 detailed improvement recommendations. The LGA’s resource hub features UK case studies of how councils addressed local health inequalities.

Interest in more LGIU Global Local content?

Podcast: Gospel and Crockett: building on a small town’s cultural heritage

In the latest Global Local Podcast episode, Ingrid Koehler talks to her home town mayor in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. As the ‘birthplace of Southern Gospel’ and the home of an annual festival, Mayor Lay talks about how cultural heritage helps a small town support economic prosperity. 
Listen here.

Blog: Moray Council’s catering teams recognised with national Food for Life award

This blog post recognises the work of the catering team in Moray Council, Scotland, which has just been awarded the Soul Association’s Food for Life Bronze award – this means that a minimum of 75% of dishes are freshly prepared from unprocessed ingredients. 
Read this blog here.

Thanks for reading!

Next week, we’ll examine issues related to local government reform, including a focus on New Zealand experiences. In two weeks’ time, we’ll explore challenges facing sexual health services and how councils have responded in innovative ways.

If you would like to share your story, you can fill in this simple form or drop me a line at [email protected]. Please forward this free newsletter to a colleague or share it on social media to help us reach even more people who value local government globally. We tweet from @GlobalLocalLGIU.

Want more content? Visit our website to access our Global Local briefings, blogs, podcast and more.

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