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Global action on the social determinants of health
  1. Angela Donkin,
  2. Peter Goldblatt,
  3. Jessica Allen,
  4. Vivienne Nathanson,
  5. Michael Marmot
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UCL Institute of Health Equity, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Angela Donkin; a.donkin{at}


Action on the social determinants of health (SDH) is required to reduce inequities in health. This article summarises global progress, largely in terms of commitments and strategies. It is clear that there is widespread support for a SDH approach across the world, from global political commitment to within country action. Inequities in the conditions in which people are born, live, work and age, are however driven by inequities in power, money and resources. Political, economic and resource distribution decisions made outside the health sector need to consider health as an outcome across the social distribution as opposed to a focus solely on increasing productivity. A health in all policies approach can go some way to ensure this consideration, and we present evidence that some countries are taking this approach, however given entrenched inequalities, there is some way to go. Measuring progress on the SDH globally will be key to future development of successful policies and implementation plans, enabling the identification and sharing of best practice. WHO work to align measures with the sustainable development goals will help to forward progress measurement.

  • public health

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  • Handling editor Seye Abimbola

  • Contributors The authors have all made a substantive contribution to this draft and have edited and viewed the final version.

  • Disclaimer The author(s) is(are) staff member(s) of the World Health Organization. The author(s) alone is(are) responsible for the views expressed in this publication and they do not necessarily represent the views, decisions or policies of the World Health Organization.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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