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Anti-Poverty Programmes 1989-2008




Health Inequality

Poverty & Health Inequality | Quality Health Services | Building Healthy Communities

Tackling Poverty, Tackling Health Inequality

Complex factors contribute to health inequalities, including links between poverty, inequality and health. Poor people get sick more often and die younger than those who are better off. Health and well-being are determined by a range of factors including adequate income and access to education, housing and transport.

The National Development Plan (NDP) acknowledges the strong social class gradient in health status. The National Action Plan for Social Inclusion (NAPinclusion) recognises that access to quality health services is a prerequisite for participation in the social and economic life of society.

Experiencing poorer health means having a greater need for health services, particularly primary care, as these services are the first point of contact. The current social partnership agreement Towards 2016 commits to "ongoing investment to ensure integrated, accessible services for people within their own community" with the roll-out of 500 primary care teams by 2011. This commitment is reinforced in NAPinclusion, the NDP and the current Programme for Government.

The National Health Strategy and the Primary Care Strategy emphasise cross-sectoral approaches to dealing with health inequalities. The importance of community participation in the design and delivery of personal and social services is also recognised.

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Access to Quality Health Services

Under its Strategic Plan for 2005-2007 Combat Poverty developed a programme of work in the area of health. Under this objective Combat Poverty developed policy proposals for people in poverty to have access to quality health services, particularly primary care services. We worked with a range of stakeholders including the health services and communities (both interest and geographical) who experience health inequalities and poverty.

The goals of the programme were:

Health Services

  • To inform health services planning and policy to meet NAPS objectives.

Healthier Communities

  • To support disadvantaged communities to improve health outcomes using community development principles and practice.

Combat Poverty worked with health services and a range of other stakeholders including the Department of Health and Children, the Health Service Executive, the Office for Social Inclusion, the Institute of Public Health, the Family Support Agency, academics, and anti-poverty groups working to tackle health inequalities. 

We also worked closely with Institute of Public Health and drew on lessons from the Building Healthy Communities programme to raise awareness of the social determinants of health.


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The Building Healthy Communities Programme

Combat Poverty developed a programme to support disadvantaged communities, both geographical and sectoral, to tackle poverty and health inequalities. The Building Healthy Communities Programme had the following key aims:

  • To promote the principles and practice of community development in improving health and wellbeing outcomes for disadvantaged communities
  • To build the capacity of community health interests to draw out practice and policy lessons from their work
  • To inform and support policy initiatives relating to the links between poverty and health
  • To explore mechanisms for effective, meaningful and sustainable community participation in decision making regarding health.

There were ten projects in this programme supported by the Department of Health and Children and the Health Service Executive. The evaluation of the Programme by the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) is available for download here: Click to open PDF.

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Combat Poverty published a number of titles on health inequality and access to health services. Visit our publications pages to view our catalogue and download publications.

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