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In Rio, Countries Agree to Take Action on the Social Determinants of Health

Rio de Janeiro, 21 October 2011 (PAHO/WHO) – Member countries of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) pledged today to implement policies and plans that reduce social inequities as a means to improve the health of their populations and reduce health inequality.

The pledge was made through the Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health, issued today at the close of the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health, where representatives of more than 100 countries met to discuss the impact of social factors such as income inequality, educational opportunities, gender, race and ethnicity on people’s health. They also shared successful experiences from different countries and regions.

“This conference leaves us with a lot of work to do,” said PAHO Assistant Director Socorro Gross. “We see movement in our region toward putting equity and people—and of course health—at the center of every decision that our countries make. We talk not just about health services but about the context, the causes, the determinants that make someone have health and well-being.”

In the declaration, countries acknowledge the need to take action on the social determinants of health at the national and global levels, particularly in five key areas: improving governance for health and development, increasing participation in the development and implementation of policies, reorienting the health sector to reduce health inequities, strengthening global collaboration and governance, and monitoring progress and improving accountability. The declaration urges the development of national strategies and plans of action in WHO Member States.

The Rio Political Declaration on Social Determinants of Health is available at http://www.who.int/sdhconference/declaration/en/index.html.

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