by Dr Vijayashree HY
This session was chaired by Mr.Sunil Nandraj (Faculty, Public Health Foundation of India, Delhi) and co-chaired by Dr.Werner Soors (Institute of Tropical medicine, Antwerp).
Prof Fran Baum (Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia), in her presentation entitled ‘ The Tip of the Iceberg: neglected diseases and social determinants of health and health inequities’ spoke about approaches in reducing health inequities through action on social determinants of health (SDH). Click here to listen to her presentataion
Another panelist Dr Devaki Nambiar (Research Scientist, Public Health Foundation of India, New Delhi), by narrating a story of snake bite from the field, highlighted the health system failures at various levels in managing snake bite cases. She illustrated how larger cultural and social factors but also environmental factors shapes situations where snakebites cases becomes common in India. She emphasized the urgent need of health system preparedness to tackle such situations. It was debated that snake bite is indeed a neglected tropical disease and deserves more attention.
Dr. Upendra Bhojani (Faculty, Institute of Public Health, Bangalore) emphasized what Prof. Fran Baum described as Health in All policies concept. By highlighting how policies in different sectors like, transport, food, trade, taxation, agriculture as well as larger political economy affect whether tobacco use gets promoted or reduced in India. Subsequently he made other point that, it is not that health sector has no role in addressing SDH but there is an unique challenge to health professional to go beyond health care sector and become advocate for healthy policies in other sectors. He demonstrated how the practice of advocacy for health in all policies might look like, by briefing his experience along with his team members: Dr. Vishal, cancer surgeon who does political and administrative advocacy, Mr. Mohanraj, cancer patient spearheading voice of tobacco victim movement, and Mr. Amit doing media advocacy.
Some more discussions surrounding panelists’ presentations:
- What is the role of global community in reducing deaths by snake bites. How the global community could help in improving the situation in tropical countries?
- Social determinants of health for tobacco use: Is it critical to engage with upstream determinants like tobacco production units?
- Why despite having supporting evidences in health policies, why we fail on social determinants of health. Is it we have not really figured out how to do this?
- There is a consensus on the need to focus more on SDH. However, in the same vein we should also focus on quality health services. Changing SDH is difficult as there is power associated with it. If there is lack of political will and lack of resource allocation, can we expect a change in the system?
- Deaths caused road traffic accidents and suicides have been neglected. How SDH will determine this?
- SDH is all about power. It depends on how much control the system has on the community. It will take long time to change the SDH. It needs a strong leadership. But this leadership should come from within health services or from the society?