Something is very wrong in the United States and the United Kingdom, renowned epidemiologist Sir Michael Marmot told a standing room-only audience at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. While the rich continue to enjoy good health and longer lives, he said, the poor are getting sicker and dying younger.

In Baltimore, Md., for example, there is as much as a 20-year difference in life expectancy between men living in a poor neighborhood and men in a well-off neighborhood.

“This is a calamity,” Marmot said. “How can you improve health for a whole population when you’ve got this inequality?”

Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, delivered the 169th Cutter Lecture on Preventative Medicine in Kresge G-1 on May 10. First held in 1912, the lectures are administered by the Department of Epidemiology. Watch video of the event.

Known for his work linking socioeconomic position to health outcomes, Marmot is the author of The Health Gap: The Challenge of an Unequal World. He has advised the World Health Organization and national and local governments in the U.K. on mitigating health inequities.

He called for “evidence-based policy presented in the spirit of social justice,” noting that this can include living wages, and social spending in areas such as housing and early childhood development.

Read more at Harvard