Social determinants of health

Who we are?

Member States adopted the Rio Political Declaration at the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health in October 2011 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, calling upon them to act in five areas:

  • Adopt improved governance for health and development
  • Promote participation in policy-making and implementation
  • Further reorient the health sector towards promoting health and reducing health inequities
  • Strengthen global governance and collaboration
  • Monitor progress and increase accountability

The Rio Political Declaration was endorsed by WHO Member States at the Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland in May 2012.

Following the Mandate of the Rio Political Declaration, a core function of the WHO’s Social Determinants of Health Unit is to support, guide and strengthen the capacities of countries to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate initiatives to promote health equity through addressing the SDH. Health equity and social determinants are acknowledged as a critical component of the post-2015 sustainable development global agenda and of the push towards progressive achievement of universal health coverage (UHC). If health inequities are to be reduced, both SDH and UHC need to be addressed in an integrated and systematic manner. Accordingly the WHO SDH Unit currently focuses on following: