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Minister Guzenina-Richardson: The welfare state is the best medicine against growing health inequalities

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 18.10.2011 9.11
Press release -

Health inequalities between population groups in Finland have widened in recent years. The prevalence of health problems is higher among those with the lowest education and the poorest socio-economic status.

"Finland's rise to one of the leading welfare states in the world was not a coincidence, but the result of persistent work. Now we need that same persistence to update the welfare state. The current health inequalities in Finland are a challenge, but we should not be afraid of challenges. Finns have always been able to make the seemingly impossible possible. Indeed, it is fully possible that once again we can be proud of the primary health care and public health work in Finland. Solving the problems also requires extensive cooperation and a new way of thinking," said Maria Guzenina-Richardson, Minister of Health and Social Services.

Minister Guzenina-Richardson leads the Finnish delegation to the WHO World Conference on Social Determinants of Health which is held in Rio de Janeiro.

"Poverty and inequality in both society and health go hand in hand in today's Finland. Sustainable society indicators should take into account also the health inequalities between population groups. The Finnish Government's cross-sectoral action plan to reduce inequalities both in society and health has been praised also here in the World Conference. With the action plan, the Finnish Government continues the pioneering work for which Finland is so well-known," said Minister of Health and Social Services Maria Guzenina-Richardson.

"Reducing health inequalities requires measures that tackle the social determinants of health. People's health and wellbeing are influenced by, for example, housing, employment opportunities, dietary habits and the environment as well as the level of education and income. A narrow view does not make the world a better place."

Further information

Taru Koivisto, Director, tel. +358 9 160 73166, +358 50 3278352
Eeva Ollila, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 9 160 74032, +358 50 302 1291
Martta October, Special Adviser, tel. +358 9 160 74157

Related topics

 Health promotion

Related links

World Conference on Social Determinants and Health (WHO)

Maria Guzenina-Richardson
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