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CMA president tackles health equity issue in address to Irish MDs

The CMA's argument that physicians should pursue the elimination of social problems such as poverty and poor housing because this will lead to improved health has now been delivered to physicians on the other side of the Atlantic.

In an October speech to the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI), CMA President Louis Hugo Francescutti said that many of the major factors affecting people's health lie far outside health care's realm, and it is time for the medical profession to recognize this.

Repeating a message that he delivered to the CMA's General Council last August, Francescutti told his Irish counterparts that the health care system itself is responsible for only 25% of a person's health status, with factors such as income, housing and social standing accounting for the rest.

He also called for a shift in emphasis toward disease prevention in relation to issues such as tobacco use and obesity. In an interview with the Irish Times, the country's major newspaper, Francescutti argued that illness is increasingly based on patients' behaviour, and medicine will have to acknowledge this change.

"For example, there is little training given to medical students about addressing the causes of the obesity problem swamping Irish hospitals," he told the Times. "In 2013, we have to ask why we have Generation XXL coming down the line, and develop skills to change people's behaviours."

Francescutti, a fellow of the RCPI, assumed the CMA presidency in August.

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