Background: It is well recognised that marked inequalities in mortality and morbidity exist between populations particularly those in lower socio-economic groups, including Indigenous and some ethnic minorities. Academic medicine has not yet articulated a clear stance on reducing health inequity within communities.
Aim: To develop criteria that medical schools can implement to reduce health inequity. These criteria will enable the performance of a medical school’s commitment to health equity to be measured.
Results and Conclusion: We suggest that the contribution to lessening health inequity should be seen as an integral and important role of undergraduate medical education and the academic institutions that provide such programs. Five strategies aimed at increasing the commitment of medical and other undergraduate health students to work with disadvantaged groups to improve their health are described. They include student selection to increase representativeness of students and importantly, support for retention and academic success; undergraduate curriculum, both core and elective, to address inequality and provide skills necessary to implement change in a range of areas that impact on health; academic physicians modelling the above by actively working in and for disadvantaged groups; developing centres of excellence carrying out research in health inequity, particularly intervention rather than solely descriptive research and creating high status academic appointments in key designated positions addressing inequity. Schools of Medicine could be rated on their action on these criteria so that benchmarking across institutions could occur.