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BMJ. 2007 July 7; 335(7609): 8.
PMCID: PMC1910658
Tackling Health Inequality

Let's get tough on politicians

Roger L Weeks, general practitioner

Heath's message is that there must be a political remedy for the social injustice of health inequality.1 It is no surprise to ordinary observers of our health service that our politicians (some of the current lot in power even claim to be socialists) have to be reminded that, as Chadwick pointed out, violence, alcohol, and opium abuse, are consequences rather than causes of poverty. Engels' and others' observations of the ghastly condition of the poor gave birth to modern socialism which spawned not only communism but our own Labour party.

That party is now so ‘‘off message'' that, for example, it has attempted (and signally failed) to deal with the UK's drug problems with slogan led strategies such as “Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain.”2 The £17bn spent annually on criminalising drugs and stopping them coming into the country would be better used to help communities and individuals out of poverty and allow them to bring up their children with the hope of better opportunities to escape the poverty trap in which Britain (after the US) leads the developed world.3

Let's get really tough on politicians and, as Heath urges us, speak to the powerful on behalf of the powerless. The only way of eliminating health inequalities is by diminishing massive wealth inequalities.

Notes

Competing interests: RLW runs a clinic for heroin addiction in primary care in London SW14.

References

1. Heath I. Let's get tough on the causes of health inequality. BMJ 2007;334:1301 (23 June.) [PMC free article] [PubMed]
2. Tackling drugs to build a better Britain—the government's ten-year strategy for tackling drugs misuse London: Stationery Office, 1998
3. Godfrey C, Eaton G, McDougall C, Culyer A. The economic and social costs of class A drug use in England and Wales, 2000 Home Office Research Study 249. London: Home Office, 2002

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