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Local Health Authority Day 2024

Local Health Authority Day, Pictogram of a building behind a place name sign. Source: RKI

Social inequality and health

Johann Peter Frank, lithography by Adolph Friedrich Kunike, 1819

The local health authority is a central pillar in protecting the health of the population. The Local Health Authority Day is celebrated on 19 March. On 19 March 2019, RKI has proclaimed the Local Health Authority Day for the first time. It was on this day in 1745 that Johann Peter Frank was born, a physician and social medicine specialist considered as the founder of Public Health. Efficient local health authorities are the backbone of all public health efforts everywhere in the world. While Hospitals and doctors' surgeries care for the well-being of individual patients, public health authorities aim at prevention measures for the broad population.

The motto of the Local Health Authority Day 2024 is "Social inequality and health". The impact of the socioeconomic status (e.g. in terms of education, profession and income) on health and life expectancy is regularly confirmed by epidemiological studies. People with a low socioeconomic status are more commonly affected by chronic diseases, psychosomatic symptoms, injuries due to accidents, and disabilities. They assess their own health more negatively and report health-related limitations in their everyday lives more often. The use of prevention offers, such as vaccinations, decreases with lower education and income. The consequences of this inequality of opportunity are a greater need for services from the medical health care system and social protection in the event of illness. The effects of social disadvantage accumulate over the life course and are also clearly reflected in premature mortality.

Population groups with a low social status are an important target group for health authorities. The social inequality of health opportunities and disease risks is also a focus of the Robert Koch Institute's epidemiological research.

Date: 13.12.2023