A public health strategy for reducing health inequalities “is being developed”, the HSE has informed the Medical Independent (MI).
The lack of a “comprehensive” strategy for the area was raised at the HSE safety and quality committee meeting in May, according to minutes.
At the meeting, National Director of Public Health Dr John Cuddihy presented on reforms as part of the “public health priority programme”. He discussed addressing health inequity and the work of social inclusion.
The committee’s chair Prof Deirdre Madden noted the absence of a public health strategy in this area.
Dr Cuddihy “advised that a lot of work is happening in this area to tackle health inequity, but agreed that no comprehensive strategy to guide that work has previously existed”, according to minutes.
“He advised that the strategy would require the involvement of broader stakeholders, but that some initial steps in the programme can be achieved quickly.”
A HSE spokesperson told MI the strategy will describe current activities, best evidence, and future ways of working between the HSE public health and social inclusion divisions to reduce health inequities. The strategy is due to be published in the second quarter of 2024.
The spokesperson added that under the leadership of Prof Breda Smyth, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health, work has commenced on the development of a broader national public health strategy.
Currently, the HSE’s Health Protection Strategy 2022-2027, “outlines the objectives and priority actions for public health to take, in collaboration with key stakeholders, to achieve the protection of the population of Ireland from all health protection hazards.”