The Royal Australasian College of Physicians calls for Health in All Policies
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) recognises that the role of health professionals includes addressing the social determinants of health (SDoH) which can influence the prevention, treatment and trajectory of illness (both physical and mental). Many diseases are prevented, mitigated, precipitated or exacerbated by the conditions under which people are born, grow, live, work and age.
Health professionals can influence these social determinants at macro- meso- and micro-levels, and play a particularly important role in influencing behavioural and psychosocial risk factors across the life course. One strategy to tackle the SDoH is a governance approach called Health in All Policies (HiAP):
HiAP is an approach to policy-making that places ‘health’ as a key decision-making factor in all areas of policy, by systematically taking into account the health and health-system implications of policy decisions, by seeking synergies between policy portfolios, and by avoiding harmful health impacts, in order to improve population health and health equity.
The development of the RACP Health in All Policies Position Statement has been driven by two ideas for addressing the SDoH through the implementation of HiAP, both of which are relevant to physicians and to governments:
- Diseases and illness are exacerbated and disparately distributed in direct relationship to inequities in society.
- SDoH are often responsible for health inequities – the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between countries; and
- Addressing the SDoH will reduce the burden of avoidable disease, resulting in savings to the health system and economic growth and development.
 Based on World Health Organization (WHO) 2013. Health in All Policies: framework for country action, p. 2.