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About the Social Determinants of Health

Our health is determined to a large extent by the conditions of everyday life, and by the systems put in place to promote health, prevent disease, and support us when we get sick. The ‘social determinants of health’ (SDH) is a name given to the many social conditions that interact to influence our health and well-being, the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age. 


The World Health Organization (WHO) Commission on the Social Determinants of Health wrote in their final report that the “unequal distribution of health-damaging experiences is not in any sense a ‘natural phenomenon but is the result of a toxic combination of poor social policies and programs, unfair economic arrangements, and bad politics.” 

The WHO Commission proposes three overarching recommendations for action to improve the SDH, including:

  • Improve daily living conditions;
  • Tackle the inequitable distribution of power, money, and resources;
  • Measure and understand the problem and assess the impact of action.
     

Explore key historical documents and resources to learn more about the social determinants of health.

 

 

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