Much has been learned about the determinants of the marked inequalities in morbidity and mortality that exist between and within countries. Current thinking on the social determinants of health focuses on the lifecourse through examining the material and psychosocial conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age, and on the structural drivers of these conditions, the distribution of power, money and resources. The lecture will discuss how characteristics of the places in which people live influence health outcomes. Sir Michael will examine the impact on health outcomes of the interaction between the socioeconomic characteristics of individuals and the characteristics of the places they inhabit. Finally the lecture will explore how the social determinants of health approach feeds into policy development at multiple levels of societal organization to reduce health inequities.
Sir Michael Marmot has led a research group on health inequalities for the past thirty years. He is Principal Investigator of the Whitehall Studies of British civil servants, investigating explanations for the striking inverse social gradient in morbidity and mortality. He leads the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and is engaged in several international research efforts on the social determinants of health. He chairs the Department of Health Scientific Reference Group on tackling health inequalities. He was a member of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution for six years and is an honorary fellow of the British Academy.
In 2000 he was knighted for services to Epidemiology and understanding of health inequalities. Internationally acclaimed, Prof Marmot is a Vice President of the Academia Europaea, a Foreign Associate Member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), and the Chair of the Commission on Society Determinants of Health set up by the World Health Organisation in 2005. He won the Balzan Prize for Epidemiology in 2004, gave the Harveian Oration in 2006 and won the William B. Graham Prize for Heath Services Research in 2008. In 2008 he became Doctor Honoris Causa of the Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
In November 2008, the Secretary of State for Health asked Sir Marmot to chair the Review of Health Inequalities in England to inform policy making to address health inequalities from 2010. The final report “Fair Society, Healthy Lives” was published in February 2010, and concluded that reducing health inequalities is a matter of fairness and social justice and laid out a framework of action on six policy objectives across the social gradient. Following publication of the 2010 report, Sir Michael was asked by the WHO Regional Director for Europe to chair a Review of Social Determinants of Health and the Health Divide in the WHO European Region. The review report (published in 2012) is informing new policy development for health for the European Region, Health 2020, and aims to accelerate action on socially-determined health inequities by developing policies that work in low-, middle- and high-income countries.