Social determinants of health

Commission on Social Determinants of Health, 2005-2008

WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan with the Commissioners

The Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) was established by WHO in March 2005 to support countries and global health partners in addressing the social factors leading to ill health and health inequities. The Commission aimed to draw the attention of governments and society to the social determinants of health and in creating better social conditions for health, particularly among the most vulnerable people. The commission delivered it's report to the World Health Organisation in July 2008 and it subsquently ended it's functions.

Overarching recommendations of the Commission

Final report of the Commission

Inequities are killing people on a "grand scale" reports WHO's Commission

Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health

"This ends the debate decisively. Health care is an important determinant of health. Lifestyles are important determinants of health. But... it is factors in the social environment that determine access to health services and influence lifestyle choices in the first place." Director-General Dr Margaret Chan, at the launch of the final report of the CSDH.

Areas of work of the Commission

In order to achieve its goals, the Commission on Social Determinants of Health focused on the following:

  • Country action
    The Commission supported some countries to develop policies that address the social causes of poor health and inequities.
  • Civil society
    Civil society organizations from all regions provided vital inputs to the Commission's work.
  • Knowledge networks
    The networks collated knowledge and evidence to support policy design and action.