The Health-Wealth Divide in Ireland: Leaving no one behind

Posted on: 29 November 2023

Over 1,000 delegates including health professionals, researchers and policymakers, from across Ireland and Northern Ireland and beyond, will come together online today for the 2023 Joint North South Public Health Conference.

The Health-Wealth Divide in Ireland: Leaving no one behind

Under the theme of ‘The Health-Wealth Divide: Leaving No One Behind’, this year’s conference focusses on addressing health inequalities on the island of Ireland.   

This virtual event will bring together international and local experts to discuss the drivers of health inequalities and the wider social, economic, and environmental determinants of health, while also considering how other crises, such as the cost-of-living crisis, can widen and intensify the health gap.  

It is organised by the Institute of Public Health, Public Health Agency, Department of Health in Northern Ireland and Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University of Galway, University of Limerick, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and HSE Strategy & Research. 

Catherine Darker, Associate Professor in Health Services research at Trinity College and who is attending the conference said:

"In Ireland we are living longer than even before. But good health is not equally enjoyed by all groups in society. People from poor communities die younger and get sicker younger than people living in more affluent communities. There is literally decades worth of data both internationally and nationally that tell the same story over and over.

This is why health inequalities are called 'wicked problems'. The good news is that these health differences are largely socially constructed, which means that if we change how society is structured, then we should be able to reduce the degree of difference between rich and poor. It doesn’t matter whether we look at this through a social justice lens, an equity lens or indeed an economic lens - the only thing that matters is doing something concrete about it.”

Working towards the Sustainable Development Goals and reducing health inequalities are strategic priorities in Northern Ireland and Ireland. This annual all-island conference aims to provide an opportunity for knowledge exchange on what works, what doesn’t work, and what could work better when it comes to addressing health inequalities at a local and national level.

The conference will be opened by Alice Leahy, who has worked at the coalface of homeless services in Dublin for decades and who continues to head up the Alice Leahy Trust, founded in 1975.  

Keynotes include:

  • Tackling Health Inequities in an Era of Poly-crises with Prof Fran Baum, Professor of Health Equity at the Stretton Institute, University of Adelaide, Australia.
  • The Business Case for Tackling Health Inequalities with Prof Bola Owolabi, Director of Health Inequalities at NHS England and General Practitioner.
  • Making Sense of Street Chaos with Dr Austin O'Carroll, Dublin-based GP working directly with marginalised and homeless communities and co-founder of Safetynet Ireland, North Dublin City GP Training, and GPCareForAll.

Dr Helen McAvoy, Director of Policy at the Institute of Public Health will chair the conference, she said: 

 “This year’s Joint North South Public Health Conference provides a prime opportunity to consider how we can address health inequalities on the island of Ireland, to assess what is working well, and to consider how we can narrow the health gap.” 

Further information is available at the following link:



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