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.


  • September 2015

    Country updates on social determinants of health

    WHO and national multidisciplinary teams in Morocco and Nepal are undertaking a review process to improve health programme results, close coverage gaps and better meet population needs.
    In Suriname, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO and the United Nations are working to support implementation of the Health in All Policies (HiAP) approach to addressing the social determinants of health.

  • September 2015

    The WORLD Policy Analysis Center global policy data (WORLD)

    WORLD engages in a rigorous research process to gather and transform massive quantities of legal and policy data into accessible, user-friendly resources, including interactive maps, country comparisons, and downloadable datasets. In addition, WORLD has developed a series of unique resources, including factsheets and infographics, assessing the world’s progress toward translating key global agreements into domestic law.