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.


  • 24-26 March 2015

    Health in all policies training manual

    The WHO Health in All Policies Training Manual, launched in 2015, provides a resource for training to increase skills in working across sectors. It is designed to be used to organize workshops for health professionals and professionals from other sectors. The trainers meeting brought 23 participants from 22 different institutions and countries to review how the Health in All Policies training manual is organized and intended to be used and adapted to different contexts and to discuss the needs and priorities of collaborating institutions.

  • July 2014

    Meeting on measuring and monitoring intersectoral factors influencing equity in Universal Health Coverage and health

    The Social Determinants of Health unit in collaboration with the departments of Gender, Equity and Human Rights and Health Statistics and Information Systems are developing indicators for monitoring the social determinants of health in relation to health system performance assessment (including Universal Heatlh Care and health impact goals). This report summarizes progress made at a meeting held on 6 to 8 May, 2014 in Bellagio, Italy, to advance the development of a framework for monitoring.