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Stocking Fillers

Tackling Inequalities in Health

edited by Benzeval, Judge & Whitehead. King's Fund, London 1995. pp140 £14.95 ISBN 1 85717 088 1

Bandolier touched on social inequalities in health (see Bandolier #6 ) and has now found a book which gathers together the evidence that poverty shortens your life. Unfortunately the remedies by and large fall outside the provision of health care. Like many current nightmares - who will have jobs in 2010? who will pay the pensions in 2010? - the poverty/health trap is a huge policy problem for any thinking government in the developed world.

The obligations of a health care system are "to ensure equity of access, distributing resource in relation to need", and to keep trumpeting that the inequalities are large and growing, The targets proposed may not be novel - they include neglected population groups (women, older people, minority ethnic groups), education, unemployment and child care provision - and the taxation solutions may not be palatable, but can we afford to take no action? Recommended.

Where to be Born?

Rona Campbell & Alison Macfarlane. National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, Oxford, 2nd edition 1994. pp170 £7.00 ISBN 0-9512405-1-x.

Who do you think might have said "our only resource at present is to deal with such statistical information as we possess and to ascertain fairly what it tells us". The answer is Florence Nightingale, over 100 years ago. The authors of this review, the second edition of a book first published eight years ago, have tried to follow this principle.

They certainly give lots of information woven into a fascinating perspective, both historical and contemporary, of the making of policy about where to be born. An eye opening read, well worth £7, and deserving of a place on the bookshelf.



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