Social determinants of health

Better governance for health and development - Health in All Policies Training

Better governance for health and development - Health in All Polices Training

While many public policies contribute to health and health equity, improving population health is not the sole purpose of societies and their governments. A lack of policy coherence across government can result in one part of government supporting the implementation of national strategies (e.g. on malnutrition, or noncommunicable diseases) or international treaties (e.g. the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control), while other parts of the government promote trade, industrial development and initiatives that can be harmful to health and well-being.

One reason that these inconsistencies arise is a lack of understanding across sectors about the linkages between health and quality of life, and the broader health determinants, such as economic growth. Another reason they arise is because seemingly unrelated policies may have unintended impacts that go unmeasured and unaddressed. These linkages are is particularly important for how health inequities arise between population groups.

To contribute to policy coherence across government in order to address the social determinants of health equity, the health sector needs to understand the imperatives of other sectors and form common understanding of health, its determinants and broader societal well-being or quality of life. This requires political will and innovative solutions and structures that build channels for dialogue and decision-making that work across traditional government policy siloes.

In practice this means engaging in several different actions, including:

  • Coordination support to a networks of trainers implementing the WHO Training Manual on Health in All Policies in countries, regions and WHO programmes;
  • Supporting and implementing workshops for improving the skills of government policy-makers, programme leaders and health provider groups to ensure coherence across sectors in policies, services and programmes responding to disadvantaged groups' needs; and
  • Supporting dissemination of information on intersectoral governance for determinants of health equity and exchange of evaluated case studies through an intersectoral action database (Intersectoral Action Case Study Database for Health Equity (ISACS).