I’m struck (but then I’m a slow learner; it’s obvious when you think about it) how much health and social justice are linked. For churches, it’s fascinating how important this ‘pre-healing’ ministry is. And any church interested in ‘healing’ ought to be fascinated by the possibilities of pre-healing people before they ever get sick. The good we can do! The changes we can make! Look at this from the current Wired magazine 1, which finds its way to us among articles about virtual wards, remote robotic surgery, and unlocking the NHS’ troves of digital records.
… about one in five people live in poverty in the UK. Poverty has an awful impact on physical and mental health: it is associated with higher infant mortality, lower adult life expectancy, poorer mental health, asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. It has been estimated that getting your daily calories from healthy foods costs three times more compared to buying poor quality food.
Housing is another big problem. According to the Health Foundation, one in three people reports a problem with the affordability, security, or the quality of their housing. Issues such as mold and damp can lead to respiratory problems and headaches…
Green spaces are another massive issue. There’s a lot of evidence now proving that exercise is like a miracle drug. There is also plenty of evidence that if you provide more open, free, green spaces to people, you end up with higher levels of physical activity in the population, and improved mental health. In 2020, the government itself estimated that if every citizen had access to green spaces, it could save the NHS billions of pounds a year.
… We need to realize that almost all policy has an impact on population health, and think more holistically about what our health priorities are for the longer term.