Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health
August 28, 2008 – These “social determinants of health” have been the focus of a
three-year investigation by an eminent group of policy makers,
academics, former heads of state and former ministers of health.
Together, they comprise the World Health Organization’s Commission on
the Social Determinants of Health. Today, the Commission presents its
findings to the WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan.
“(The) toxic combination of bad policies, economics, and politics is,
in large measure responsible for the fact that a majority of people in
the world do not enjoy the good health that is biologically possible,”
the Commissioners write in Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health. “Social injustice is killing people on a grand scale.”
“Health inequity really is a matter of life and death,” said Dr Chan
today while welcoming the Report and congratulating the Commission.
“But health systems will not naturally
gravitate towards equity. Unprecedented leadership is needed that
compels all actors, including those beyond the health sector, to
examine their impact on health. Primary health care, which integrates
health in all of government’s policies, is the best framework for doing
Sir Michael Marmot, Commission Chair said: “Central
to the Commission’s recommendations is creating the conditions for
people to be empowered, to have freedom to lead flourishing lives.
Nowhere is lack of empowerment more obvious than in the plight of women
in many parts of the world. Health suffers as a result. Following our
recommendations would dramatically improve the health and life chances
of billions of people.”