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Promoting health and reducing health inequities

Promoting health and reducing health inequities by addressing the social determinants of health >> WHO Strategic Objective 7: To address the underlying social and economic determinants of health through policies and programmes that enhance health equity and integrate pro-poor, gender-responsive, and human-rights-based approaches . gettyimages It is only through a proactive and inclusive policy development and advocacy process that we can convince other parts of government and society that health is not a hopeless public expenditure, but is a resource for better economies, better quality of life and, ultimately, the way towards more just and more equitable societies. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe Introduction Poor health cannot be explained simply by germs and genes.

Executive Summary PAGE 4 To tackle health inequities, who/europe promotes an intersectoral and whole-of-government approach, which calls for action at different levels of policy-making.

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1 Promoting health and reducing health inequities by addressing the social determinants of health >> WHO Strategic Objective 7: To address the underlying social and economic determinants of health through policies and programmes that enhance health equity and integrate pro-poor, gender-responsive, and human-rights-based approaches . gettyimages It is only through a proactive and inclusive policy development and advocacy process that we can convince other parts of government and society that health is not a hopeless public expenditure, but is a resource for better economies, better quality of life and, ultimately, the way towards more just and more equitable societies. Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe Introduction Poor health cannot be explained simply by germs and genes.

2 It is much more complex, involving both the circumstances in which people live (access to health care, schools and education, and conditions of work, leisure, homes, communities, towns or cities) and their individual and cultural characteristics (such as social status; gender, age and ethnicity norms; values and discrimination). All of these factors influence an individual's chances of leading a flourishing, healthy life. Chances for good health are not equally distributed in our societies and this causes health inequities . The recent Interim Report on Social Determinants of health and the health Divide confirmed that significant inequities in health and the role played by their social determinants are present across and within countries in the WHO European Region.

3 Addressing these health inequities requires dealing with their root causes: the unequal distribution of power, income, goods and services in our societies. Robust evidence collected at the global, European, national and subnational WHO levels has led to an increasing call for action on social determinants. The report by the WHO Commission on WHO/Europe's efforts to address the social Social Determinants of health (CSDH) in 2008 and the determinants of health can be grouped into the related 2009 World health Assembly resolution point to the following six areas of work: urgent need to increase the commitment by Member States >> T. echnical assistance services to to address these root causes of health inequities .

4 The call to countries, including capacity building action goes beyond health ministries, reaching out across and learning exchange borders and sectors to all the players and stakeholders >> E. vidence, data collection and analysis that can contribute to a fairer and healthier Europe. The wide range of stakeholders includes ministries and other >> G. ender and health governmental entities, academic/research institutions, NGOs >> P. romoting the health of vulnerable and civil society organizations. groups The issue of health inequities is a top priority of the WHO. >> St rengthening local-level governance . Healthy Cities Regional Director for Europe, Zsuzsanna Jakab. Tackling health inequities will be a key and integral part of WHO's >> St rengthening governance at new strategy for better health in Europe, health 2020, which subnational level Regions for health Network is currently being developed in collaboration with Member States.

5 PAGE 2. health divide in the WHO European Region 890 million people 53 Member States Up to 20 Years Up to 12 Years difference in life expectancy amongst difference in life expectancy amongst men in the WHO European region women in the European region Life expectancy at birth, in years, male Life expectancy at birth, in years, female Albania Albania Andorra Andorra Armenia Armenia Austria Austria Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Belarus Belarus Belgium Belgium Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina Bulgaria Bulgaria Croatia Croatia Cyprus Cyprus Czech Republic Czech Republic Denmark Denmark Estonia Estonia Finland Finland France France Georgia Georgia Germany Germany Greece Greece Hungary Hungary Iceland Iceland Ireland Ireland Israel Israel Italy Italy Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan Latvia Latvia Lithuania Lithuania Luxembourg Luxembourg Malta Malta Monaco Monaco Montenegro Montenegro Netherlands Netherlands Norway Norway Poland Poland Portugal Portugal Republic of Moldova Republic of Moldova

6 Romania Romania Russian Federation Russian Federation San Marino San Marino Serbia Serbia Slovakia Slovakia Slovenia Slovenia Spain Spain Sweden Sweden Switzerland Switzerland Tajikistan Tajikistan TFYR Macedonia TFYR Macedonia Turkey Turkey Turkmenistan Turkmenistan Ukraine Ukraine United Kingdom United Kingdom Uzbekistan Uzbekistan European Region European Region EU EU. EU members before May 2004 EU members before May 2004. EU members since 2004 or 2007 EU members since 2004 or 2007. CIS CIS. CARK CARK. Eur-A Eur-A. Eur-B+C Eur-B+C . 0 20 40 60 80 0 20 40 60 80 100. *World health statistics (2010), ** European health for All database [online database]. (2010). PAGE 3. Executive Summary To tackle health inequities , WHO/Europe promotes an intersectoral and whole-of-government approach, which calls for action at different levels of policy-making.

7 The wide range of activities and technical assistance provided by the Regional Office can be synthesized under the following major areas of work. Technical assistance, including capacity building and learning exchange. WHO/Europe works with Member States to build and sustain their institutional and human resource capacities to address health inequities through a number of activities, including the review of public health policies and strategies, training and the facilitation of networks. Collecting and capitalizing on a wide range of experiences across sectors and across Europe, WHO provides expert guidance and support to policy-makers in the formulation of sustainable equity-centred policies, governance mechanisms and interventions.

8 WHO/Europe also supports countries in sharing the lessons learnt from specific interventions at national and subnational levels. Evidence, data collection and analysis. It is essential to have a reliable and clear picture of how health and opportunities for health are distributed in a given population, and what factors (indicators) contribute to or reduce opportunities to be healthy. This requires disaggregated data that must be analysed through a health equity lens. In addition, the WHO Office for Investment for health and Development conducts in- depth analyses on socially determined health inequities , and reviews evidence of successful interventions to support decision-makers and those implementing policies and services.

9 Gender and health : Promoting gender responsive policies. Addressing gender inequalities is recognized as a condition for achieving health equity. WHO/Europe promotes the use of sex-disaggregated data and the integration of gender analysis and actions in all policies. It also actively mainstreams gender throughout its technical assistance and policy advice to countries. This is the approach supported by WHO and Member States through the World health Assembly Resolution Promoting the health of vulnerable groups. There is mounting evidence that some processes and conditions systematically prohibit or restrict population groups from gaining economic, social, political and cultural inclusion; and these factors are strongly associated with inequities in health status and access to health services.

10 WHO contributes to the promotion of awareness, political commitment and action to address the conditions that make people vulnerable to ill health and in particular to address the needs and expectations of vulnerable groups, including the Roma, migrants and ethnic minorities. Strengthening local-level governance Healthy Cities. The WHO Regional Office for Europe recognizes the key role of local governments in creating conditions that support health and well-being. It therefore has longstanding, well-established cooperation links with hundreds of cities across the WHO European Region. The WHO Healthy Cities project seeks to put health high on the agenda of decision-makers in cities and to mobilize action for health and health equity in all local policies.


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