Skip navigation
03/01/2024
Access to Justice and Human Rights

Highlights from our Annual Social Justice Lecture by Professor Sir Michael G. Marmot

"Social Justice and Health Equity"

Internationally renowned Professor Sir Michael G. Marmot delivered Law Centre NI’s Annual Social Justice Lecture on Monday 27 November at Belfast City Hall.

Professor Marmot is the leading global figure on the social determinants of health – the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age – and how they lead to health inequalities.  He has advised many governments and the World Health Organisation on the impact of social inequality on poor health outcomes.

During his lecture on “Social Justice and Health Equity”, Professor Marmot argued that much can be done in cities, towns, and local areas to tackle the health gap.

 

Professor Marmot’s ambition is nothing less than a fairer, healthier society for all

Colum Boyle, Permanent Secretary in the Department for Communities, delivered the opening remarks at the lecture.

Welcoming Professor Marmot to Belfast, Ursula O’Hare, Director of Law Centre NI, said: “As well as his work internationally, Professor Marmot has galvanised and spearheaded local initiatives to overcome health inequality through his ‘Marmot Cities’ model.  We know that Professor Marmot’s lecture will have important messages for our local decisionmakers about putting health and wellbeing at the heart of all government policy at a city, local and regional level.  Professor Marmot’s ambition is nothing less than a fairer, healthier society for all and we’re honoured that he has joined us to give this year’s lecture.”

 

"We want people to be able to live lives of dignity and meaning and purpose, but if you can't make ends meet, how can you lead a life of dignity?"

Beginning his lecture, Professor Sir Michael Marmot addressed the three recent challenges to health inequalities.

  • Decade+ of Austerity
  • The COVID Pandemic
  • Cost of living crisis

The Marmot Principles

He outlined the Marmot principles which are based on the summary of evidence on causes of health inequalities and what you must do to make a difference.

  • Giving children the best start in life
  • Education and Lifelong learning
  • Employment and Working Conditions
  • Everyone should have at least the minimum income necessary for a healthy life.
  • Healthy and sustainable places and communities
  • Taking a social determinance approach to prevention
  • Tackling discrimination, racism and their outcomes
  • Tackling environmental sustainability and health equity together

Why treat people and send them back to the conditions that made them sick?

In his lecture, Professor Marmot pointed out that everything he said about England applies to Northern Ireland “only more so”.

“Why treat people and send them back to the conditions that made them sick? We need to address the conditions that made them sick.”

Professor Marmot spoke about poverty and how it is literally a matter of life and death for those on the margins.

Giving an overview of “Marmot places” including Coventry, Greater Manchester, Leeds and Luton – cities where there is a significant commitment to tackle health inequalities through action on the social determinants of health, Professor Marmot spoke about how great it would be if Belfast and other cities through Northern Ireland became Marmot places…

Professor Marmot finished his lecture with a quote from Welsh novelist and critic Raymond Williams.

“To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing”.

You can watch the full video of Professor Sir Michael G. Marmot’s lecture here.

Professor Marmot has led research groups on health inequalities for nearly 50 years and chaired the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health and many reviews on tackling health inequality. He is adviser to the World Health Organisation and governments and author of the “Marmot Review: Fair Society, Healthy Lives” and “The Health Gap – the challenge of an unequal world.”