Social determinants of health

© Zoltan Balogh

The social determinants of health (SDH) are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems.

As a core function, WHO’s SDH Unit is responsible for coordinating WHO support to countries to take action on SDH to address health inequities. The SDH Unit works to support, guide and strengthen the capacities of countries to develop, implement, monitor and evaluate initiatives to promote health equity through addressing the SDH. The WHO SDH Unit currently focuses on four priority areas, shown below.


  • 25 May 215

    Social Determinants of Health Progress Report at 68th World Health Assembly

    In May 2012, the Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA65.8 on advancing the social determinants of health and health equity agenda. This report provides the requested update of the report noted by the Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly in May 2013.
    Political commitment to and action on social determinants of health and health equity have steadily increased. The widely recognized need to integrate social determinants and health equity in global health and development agendas is an area of particular focus in the post-2015 sustainable development goals and universal health coverage processes.

  • 5-6 May 215

    The first Health In all Policies training - Paramaribo, Suriname

    On the 5th and 6th of May 2015, we were proud to host the first Health in All Policies (HiAP) training in Paramaribo, Suriname. This training was attended by approximately 65 participants – ministerial technical staff, policy advisors and actors from Non-Governmental agencies – representing various sectors throughout the Caribbean sub-region. HiAP focuses on the social and environmental determinants of health, which are often better addressed through policies, interventions and actions outside the health sector. The focus of this training was to train the participants in a Health in All Policies approach.