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In this issue we mark the coming of age of work on equity and health with the publication of a set of papers from the first meeting of the International Society for Equity in Health held in Havana, Cuba in June 2000. A working definition of equity in health as “the absence of systematic and potentially remediable differences in one or more aspects of health across population groups defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically” provides the basis for contributions that range from theory and methods (pages 485, 488) through specific research reports (see page 556) to papers with a clear focus on policy andpractice (pages 497, 506, 517). As Starfield puts it in the overview “it is our hope that the formation of the International Society for Equity in Health can move the research and policy agenda further and faster than has been the case in the most recent two decades in which equity has received increasing attention”.
The JECH gallery from Glasgow this month throws the spotlight on meeting places and social cohesion and we make no apologies for reproducing from Tobacco Control an article that underlines the importance of tobacco control advocates maintaining their vigilance if tobacco control policies are to deliver the prized health dividend that beckons. See pages 482, 522
Increasing interest is now being shown in the effects of climate on health presumably prompted by the growing concern over global warming. A contribution from Italy reinforces the significance of bioclimatic fluctuations on summer mortality, a finding that may carry equal significance for planetary management as for town planning. See page 536
And in an increasingly important area in a progressively obese developed world Alberti and his group found a non-linear relation between alcohol intake and the risk of type II diabetes. Serum insulin and HDL-cholesterol explained a small amount of the reduction in the risk of type II diabetes associated with moderate drinking while the adverse effect of heavy drinking seemed to be partially mediated through its effect on body weight.
See page 542
Finally, an important research finding from Alabama on the protective effect against STD/HIV infection among African-American female teenagers who belonged to black organisations provides another perspective on community cohesion—social connectedness may well turn out to be as significant a public health objective for the 21st century as safe water and adequate diet has been until now.
See page 549