Webinar: COVID-19 multisectoral policy responses and the implications for health equity

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

COVID-19 shines a spotlight on social and health inequities. The already widening inequities in life expectancy, premature death, non-communicable diseases and mental health issues in Australia will get worse as a consequence of COVID-19 if progressive, long-term multisectoral action is not taken.

In this webinar, Professor Sharon Friel, Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Governance at RegNet, ANU is joined by Dr Sandro Demaio from VicHealth and Professor Emily Lancsar from the Research School of Population Health, ANU. The speakers will reflect on the recent Menzies Centre report, Australian COVID-19 policy responses: Good for health equity or a missed opportunity? which examines the Australian Federal and State/Territory policy responses to COVID 19 and their implications for health equity. The report examines the 156 policy measures that were introduced by the Federal and State/Territory level governments, and which touch on eight key social determinants of health equity: employment, income, cost of living, education, housing, infrastructure, community services, and health care.

The panel will discuss some of the positive possibilities for health equity as a consequence of these policies as well as reflect on opportunities for multisectoral public policy that could keep Australian society healthy, reduce social and health inequities, and reduce the financial burden to the health and social systems that is associated with health inequities. These same policy responses could go a long way to mitigate the health harms from climate change. ‘Bouncing back better’ from COVID-19 could see a healthier, more equitable and sustainable Australia if political leaders choose to use this unfortunate event to drive positive societal change.

The webinar will be chaired by Dr Belinda Townsend, Deputy Director, Menzies Centre for Health Governance at RegNet, ANU.

About the speakers
Professor Sharon Friel is Professor of Health Equity and Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Governance in the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) at the Australian National University. Sharon was Director of RegNet from 2014-2019. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences Australia and co-Director of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in the Social Determinants of Health Equity. Her book, Climate Change and the People’s Health was published by OUP in Jan 2019.

Dr Sandro Demaio is a medical doctor and globally-renowned public health expert and advocate. Sandro previously worked for the World Health Organization and was CEO of the EAT Foundation. He also co-founded the NCDFREE global social movement and established a not-for-profit foundation to improve the health and nutrition of Australian kids. Sandro has published many scientific journal articles and is author of the Doctor’s Diet cookbook. He also co-hosts the ABC television and Netflix show Ask the Doctor.

Professor Emily Lancsar is Head of the Department of Health Services Research and Policy and Associate Dean (Policy and Practice) in the College of Health and Medicine at the ANU. She is an economist with particular interests in understanding and modelling choice, preferences and behaviour of key decision makers in the health sector, priority setting in the health system, economic evaluation and policy analysis.Emily holds a number of current and past ARC, NHMRC, MRC, ESRC, NIHR and EU funded grants and fellowships. She is a member of a number of government advisory committees including the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC), the Economic Sub-Committee of MSAC and the Economic Sub-Committee of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Dr Belinda Townsend is a Research Fellow in the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) and is Deputy Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Governance at RegNet, at ANU. Belinda’s work is focused on the political economy of health and health governance. Her recent work examines agenda-setting in areas outside the “health policy” domain, such as in trade and investment, employment, and social and welfare policy.

Image: health image by ar130405 from Pixabay, Pixabay licence.