Social determinants of health

Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly Side Event

The Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health produced at the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health in Rio, Brazil, in October 2011, identified five action areas for health to engage in to address the social determinants of health. One of these action areas focused on the reorientation of health care. The United Kingdom government, in partnership with the World Medical Association (WMA) and the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), held a side-event that explored concrete mechanisms related to the role of health care providers.

The side event was moderated by Dr Kathryn Tyson, Director of International Health and Public Health Delivery, Department of Health, United Kingdom.

The side event opened with a film produced by WHO, Department of Ethics, and Social Determinants of Health, following the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health.

The World Medical Association, represented by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Chair of the Socio-Medical Affairs Committee (WMA) and former Chair of the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2005-2008), discussed findings from the work of the Marmot Review and the University College London (UCL) Institute of Health Equity on the relevance of and potential for advancing the health equity agenda through integrating a social determinants-based public health perspective into the work of primary health care providers.

IFMSA, represented by its President, Dr Christopher Pleyer, reviewed the range of awareness raising and information sharing activities IFMSA was undertaking to use education and training to reduce and prevent health inequities. The presentation highlighted the importance of developing multidisciplinary medical education and the range of advocacy and other tools being developed by IFMSA members. An example of an advocacy product in the form of a film was presented.

The World Health Organization (WHO), represented by Dr Rüdiger Krech, Director of the Department of Ethics, Equity, Trade and Human Rights, WHO, discussed the approach WHO and five United Nations (UN) partners -- ILO, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF – are using to promote the global agenda for health equity through addressing the social determinants of health. The presentation also presented examples from a joint UN work plan that is in the process of being finalized.