Report – HiNEWS Final Workshop, 25 – 26 September 2017

by Mirza Balaj

The HiNEWS project on Health Inequalities in European Welfare States organized a final workshop in Paris on the 25-26 September. The aim of this workshop was to present the results of the work packages and disseminate lessons learned with our collaborators and partners in academia, non-profit and governmental organizations. During each day of the workshop, presentations reviewed inequality patterns in a large set of health outcomes and key social determinants contributing to these health inequalities. The health inequality module integrated into the European Social Survey (2014) was the main survey applied by several senior and younger scholars. Examination of this rich data source both in terms of more nuanced health outcomes and a larger set of social determinants of health showed that the degree of health inequalities varies spatially and notable differences exist within Europe.

Notable in this workshop, was the interest among several participants to explore the role of institutions in shaping health inequalities. Claus Wendt and his team presented updated typologies of healthcare systems, later utilized by Terje Andreas Eikemo and his team to explain social inequalities in healthcare related avoidable mortality. Stimulating policy discussion followed findings from two important contributions from Alexander E. Kentikelenis reviewing ‘Cross-National Evidence on Structural Adjustment and Health Equity (1990-2014)’, and Clare Bambra presenting ‘Evidence of welfare state, healthcare system and public health policy interventions to reduce social inequalities in health’. Overall, participant agreed on the need to expand our research agenda to systematically identify which policies, institutional conditions and interventions have the greatest impact on reducing health inequalities.

As we are approaching the end of the HiNEWS project, special interest was placed on exchanging information in ongoing and future initiatives across the institutions present in this workshop, such as OECD, EC, CEPS, ASPHER and EuroHealthNet, in order to ensure long-term engagement of the HiNEWS team in the European debate on health inequalities. Following the workshop, the HiNEWS team, represented by Prof. Terje Andreas Eikemo and Mirza Balaj, was invited in Luxembourg to discuss more concrete steps for collaboration with Social Determinants and Inequality Unit in Directorate General for Health and Food Safety. Both parties recognized the reciprocal need to access and exchange information and debate on health inequalities.

Further Reading: Terje Andreas Eikemo, Tim Huijts, Clare Bambra, Courtney McNamara, Per Stornes and Mirza Balaj (HiNEWS) (October 2016) “Social Inequalities in Health and their Determinants: Topline Results from Round 7 of the European Social Survey“, ESS Topline Result Series 6.