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Is equity a scientific issue?
  1. The Johns Hopkins University (e-mail:
  2. Facultad de Ciencias Medicas, UNLP, Argentina (
    1. The Johns Hopkins University (e-mail:
    2. Facultad de Ciencias Medicas, UNLP, Argentina (

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      Equity is a humanitarian issue that derives from principles of ethics, especially justice (fairness). Fairness requires the elimination of inequity—that is, systematic inequality across population subgroups. Can science be brought to bear on the subject of equity? The answer must be yes. This is the rationale for the new International Society for Equity in Health (ISEqH).

      It is no secret that, in the world over and within countries, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Ethical issues alone suggest a cause for alarm, on humanitarian grounds. Concern is heightened by the relatively recent evidence that increasing poverty is not the only worry. Although it is a big one, it is not a new one. The new issue concerns the evidence of increasing inequities in wealth wherein the ill effects derive not only from increases in poverty but also because the wealthier are becoming wealthier.

      Recent literature is converging on the conclusion that the extent of disparities between the wealthiest segments of society and the less wealthy is directly related to the health of that society, even when health is measured by conventional mortality and morbidity statistics. Thus, the phenomenon is not a matter only of material deprivation among the poorer segments of society,1-3 and it is not alleviated substantially by …

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