Health Inequalities

Addressing the social determinants of health

Health Inequalities

One of the four goals of Healthy Ireland is to reduce health inequalities.

Healthy Ireland recognises that health and wellbeing are not evenly distributed across Irish society. For example, it is clear that many of the risk factors for chronic disease, such as smoking and obesity, are more common in lower socio-economic groups or among people living in more deprived areas.

These health inequalities are caused by social and other determinants of health, including education and access to employment. Other inequalities exist across the rural/urban divide, and between people of different genders, ethnic groups, ages and abilities.

Achieving this goal to reduce health inequalities requires not only interventions to target particular health risks, but also a broad focus on addressing those wider social determinants of health – the circumstances in which people are born, grow, live work and age  – to create economic, social, cultural and physical environments that foster healthy living.

This will take all Government Departments and all sectors of society working together to influence and improve the various determinants of health.

Action on social determinants of health benefits everyone in society. Good health enhances quality of life, improves capacity for learning, strengthens families and communities and contributes to social inclusion.

It is important that all people living in Ireland, regardless of their differing circumstances, can be part of, and benefit from, a healthier Ireland.