Health Inequalities at the Heart of the Social Work Curriculum




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Taylor and Francis



Peer reviewed



Efforts to reduce the widening gap between the health and social well-being of people within and between countries have become an urgent priority for politicians and policymakers. The Rio Declaration called on governments worldwide to promote and strengthen universal access to social services and to work in partnership to promote health equity and foster more inclusive societies. This paper contributes to international debates about the role of social work in promoting social justice by reducing social and health inequalities. Despite clear commitments to promote good health, there is a notable absence of a social determinants of health perspective in international social work curricula standards. The current review of social work education in England presents a timely opportunity to integrate such a perspective in teaching and learning and to disseminate this more widely. Employing the concepts of downstream and upstream interventions, the first part of the paper examines the distinctiveness of the social work contribution to this global agenda. In the second part of the paper, we consider how the content of learning activities about health inequalities can be incorporated in international social work curricula, namely, human rights, using Gypsy and Traveller families as an exemplar, inter-professional education and international perspectives.




Fish, J. and Karban, K. (2013) Health Inequalities at the Heart of the Social Work Curriculum. Social Work Education: The International Journal, 33 (1), pp. 15-30


Research Institute

Institute of Health, Health Policy and Social Care