Academic community calls for multidisciplinary approach to reduce health inequalities

Inequalities in health may have different causes, yet the most persistent and man-made are linked to the social factor. Socio-economic position, education or access to healthcare are likely to have considerable impact on our physical and mental wellbeing, as they do on the susceptibility to diseases. So what can societies and especially lawmakers do to reduce the inequalities caused by these factors?

Around 200 researchers, civil society representatives, and members of the public discussed these and further questions at the “Social Inequalities in Health Symposium“. The event was organised by Académie nationale de médecine in partnership with ALLEA and FEAM, the Federation of European Academies of Medecine, and took place on 22 January 2020 in Paris.

Sadly, health inequalities in all European countries are increasing even though we know many of the causes. It was stressed at the symposium that with so much evidence at our disposal we need to act decisively and bring stakeholders from research, civil society, policy and the wider society together to develop policies concerning inequalities.‘, says Professor Graham Caie, Vice President of ALLEA, who chaired the session on health systems, education and mental health. ‘Medical, social and educational factors of health inequalities are closely interlineked and require a multidisciplinary approach. Our networks of academies can assist with finding the best experts to investigate this vitally important topic.’

The recent symposium in Paris followed a successful joint conference of ALLEA and FEAM in November 2019 in Brussels. This event looked further into exploring how vulnerable groups such as migrants often find themselves challenged for various reasons, from language barriers to adaptability of healthcare systems in receiving countries.

The following day, invited experts from across Europe and North America attended a workshop focusing on key methodologies of health inequalities research. This meeting emerged from a joint ALLEA-FEAM-KNAW (the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) project that seeks to synthesise the evidence-base and identify consensus among the various disciplines involved in the subject of health inequalities. A subsequent expert workshop will address causalities and socioeconomic inequalities in health will take place on 18 March in Berlin.

Conference report ‘Migration, Health and Medicine’ released

The ALLEA-FEAM report of the conference ‘Migration, Health and Medicine’ is now available. The publication summarises the discussions of the event held in Brussels on 22 November 2019. It provides the basis for a scientifically sound analysis on migrant health and, among other topics, addresses the methods and strategies to collect valid and comparable data on this issue.

The conference was organised by ALLEA and the Federation of European Academies of Medicine (FEAM), and hosted by the Royal Academies of Medicine of Belgium (ARMB and KAGB) in collaboration with the French Academy of Medicine (ANM).

Migrant health from a scientific perspective

Migrant health is determined by multiple factors, from socio-economic aspects of health to biological and environmental interactions influencing the health of migrant populations. However, the generalisation of research findings from one community or from one country to the regional or global levels faces considerable hurdles.

From the policy side in Europe, the complexity increases due to the various levels of governance at the EU. Whereas many aspects of migration and health can be dealt with an EU approach, the provision of healthcare services is managed by Member States.

The report seeks to inform policy debates on this pressing issue from a scientific perspective. It also underlines the need for academia, policymakers, civil society and international organisations to join forces to provide scientifically validated data on the health of refugees and migrants across Europe and the world.