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CMA partnering to support health equity

How national medical associations such as the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) can take concrete action to address the social determinants of health – and support health equity – is the subject of a major international conference in London, UK, on March 24-25.

The conference, taking place at the British Medical Association (BMA) headquarters, is co-sponsored by the BMA, CMA, World Medical Association (WMA) and the University College London Institute of Health Equity.

In addition to discussing how medical associations and individual physicians can take practical action to address equity in health, delegates will inform drafting of the WMA declaration on health equity and the social determinants to be launched in October 2016. They will also establish an international network and platform for sharing policy innovations, clinical practices and education and training concerning social determinants of health.

The CMA is presenting an overview of its extensive work done in recent years to research and raise awareness of the importance of the social determinants on health outcomes and the role physicians can play in addressing them.

“The social determinants and health equity have been a priority for the CMA since 2011,” said CMA President Chris Simpson, who is scheduled to address the conference.

He noted the association has three policy papers on the subject, and in 2012 the CMA’s General Council meeting had as its theme social determinants of health. The policy papers look at: the role of physicians in addressing the social determinants and health equity; equitable access to care; a policy statement on the role of physicians in early childhood development. The CMA has developed an online CME course on treating poverty in practice, and another on early childhood development is being released later this year.

Simpson will also speak about the major 2013 initiative when the CMA, in conjunction with Maclean’s magazine and CPAC, hosted a series of public town hall meetings across Canada on “what makes us sick.” The series attracted more than 1,000 participants.

The keynote lecture at the London conference is by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity and an acknowledged international leader on health equity. Marmot will serve as president of the WMA beginning later this year, and was keynote speaker at the CMA’s 2012 annual meeting.

Conference delegates will also hear from current WMA President Dr. Xavier Deau on the role of the WMA, and the need for global action on health equity.

To follow conference proceedings and participate in the debate use the Twitter hashtag #Doctors4HealthEquity. Recordings of the presentations are to be posted online after the conference.

Forward any comments about this article to: cmanews@cma.ca.