The aim of this discussion paper is to help inform further policy action and potential solutions in order to reduce the health gap in Wales and beyond.
It provides a snapshot of the health inequalities experienced by different population groups in the years leading up to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, applying an innovative statistical methodology, a ‘Decomposition analysis’.
The paper attempts to quantify the health gap in Wales, as well as to provide a better understanding of its main drivers across the five essential conditions for healthy prosperous lives for all, using a novel World Health Organization framework. It uses three measures of self-reported health: 1) the prevalence of fair/poor health; 2) the prevalence of low mental well-being; and 3) the prevalence of low life satisfaction, comparing these between:
• Those who are able to make a saving of at least £10/month and those who are not;
• Those who report being in material deprivation and those who do not; and
• Those who report a limiting longstanding illness, disability or infirmity and those who do not.
The analysis has generated an insight into the drivers of health inequities, identifying those which contribute the most, namely ‘Social and Human Capital’ and ‘Income Security and Social Protection’; while ‘Health Services’ has accounted the least. However, systematic differences are able to explain less than half (<50%) of the health gaps for the majority of the health outcomes, based on the statistical models.
The paper highlights the need for a basket of policy and investment decisions, prioritising the key drivers of health inequity, in consensus across sectors. Further exploration and engagement with experts, stakeholders, relevant groups and communities is essential to improve understanding of the health equity gap and its drivers.
It hopes to inform the following national and international stakeholders:
• Public health professionals
• Public policy makers and budget holders on national and local levels
• Statisticians, health scientists and data analysts
• All those who have a role in influencing the health equity gap in Wales and further afield