Dr. Dennis Raphael

Dennis RaphaelDennis Raphael is a prolific author on the social determinants of health, with over 250 publications on the health effects of income inequality and poverty, their impacts on the quality of life of communities and individuals, and the impact of decisions made by government on the health and well-being of Canadians everywhere. He recently gave a talk on the political economy of health inequalities, which can be viewed here.

Politicians at all levels have ignored the relationship between income inequality and health

Dennis is a professor of health policy and management at York University in Toronto, the editor of Social Determinants of Health: Canadian Perspectives, co-editor of Staying Alive: Critical Perspectives on Health, Illness, and Health care" and author of Poverty in Canada: Implications for Health and Quality of Life. Particularly notable in the field is Social Determinants of  Health: The Canadian Facts, which will soon be released in 3rd edition. His most recent work is Tackling Health Inequalities: Lessons from International Experiences. A more expansive list can be found on the York University website.

The Canadian Facts is a truly seminal work, wherein Raphael and his co-author Juha Mikkonen lay out, define and explore the 14 determinants of health. These as we know are the factors of everyday life that mean just about everything, for how we live and when we die. They ranked them in order of importance: Income and Income Distribution, Education, Unemployment and Job Security, Employment and Working Conditions, Early Childhood Development, Food Insecurity, Housing, Social Exclusion, Social Safety Network, Health Services, Aboriginal Status, Gender, Race, and Disability.

There is little media attention to these kinds of studies

Dennis first entered the world of public health promotion in the early 90s, and slowly had his worldviews transformed by the growing data on the political and social determinations of health outcomes for both individuals and communities. Back then, when it was still a growing field of study, he was surprised the media wasn't going rabid for such important and exciting revelations. Today, after Dr. Raphael has spent decades contributing to the field, and the data in our global body of knowledge can only be described as "overwhelming", we know the media attention for social determinants of health still leaves much to be desired. While Raphael sometimes feels that the only interest in his work is in Europe, he is hopeful that this may be changing through the efforts of organizations like Upstream.

Jet.jpgLast year a Statistics Canada demonstrated a relationship between income inequality and premature deaths due to preventable health causes, finding that 40,000 Canadians die every year in what has been called "the end stage of poverty". Dennis published this article to help spread this information, drawing a striking analogy which resonated strongly with the public.


Connect upstream.