The "Inverse Care Law" is the principle that the availability of good medical or social care tends to vary inversely with the need of the population served. The widely adopted term was proposed by Julian Tudor Hart in 1971. To state his point Hart said: "To the extent that health care becomes a commodity it becomes distributed just like champagne. That is the rich people get lots of it. Poor people don't get any of it". Considering current debates on health inequalities, the Inverse Care Law becomes a key issue. Sir Michael Marmot's report Closing the Gap in a Generation on the role of social determinants and their impact on health revealed that we have not yet managed to change the pattern highlighted by Hart fifty years ago. Will the new decade become the time when we finally crack it?!
Health literacy relates to a strong social gradient
Health literacy is also distributed as champagne. The European Health Literacy Survey and other research showed that health literacy relates to a strong social gradient where those with poor socioeconomic status and poor health are worse off regarding health literacy than others. Hence, to strengthen health for all we need to invest in health literacy, especially those in most need. It means a relentless focus on making sure that the people we serve get equal access to health services; receive fully understandable information; get fully transparent options of care tailored their needs; and, receive full support to execute their treatment in a timely and quality-oriented manner.
As health literacy trailblazer ask yourself: what can I do to challenge the Inverse Care Law and change the pattern of unequal distribution of health literacy in my organization, in my community, in my country?