Measuring global health inequity
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Reidpath, D.D. and Allotey, P. (2007) ‘Measuring global health inequity’, International Journal for Equity in Health, 6, p. 16. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-9276-6-16.
Background Notions of equity are fundamental to, and drive much of the current thinking about global health. Health inequity, however, is usually measured using health inequality as a proxy – implicitly conflating equity and equality. Unfortunately measures of global health inequality do not take account of the health inequity associated with the additional, and unfair, encumbrances that poor health status confers on economically deprived populations. Method Using global health data from the World Health Organization's 14 mortality sub-regions, a measure of global health inequality (based on a decomposition of the Pietra Ratio) is contrasted with a new measure of global health inequity. The inequity measure weights the inequality data by regional economic capacity (GNP per capita). Results The least healthy global sub-region is shown to be around four times worse off under a health inequity analysis than would be revealed under a straight health inequality analysis. In contrast the healthiest sub-region is shown to be about four times better off. The inequity of poor health experienced by poorer regions around the world is significantly worse than a simple analysis of health inequality reveals. Conclusion By measuring the inequity and not simply the inequality, the magnitude of the disparity can be factored into future economic and health policy decision making.