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Ethnicity and Health

U.S. Pre-Launch of First World Summit of African Descendants

2011-05-26 20:58:48

The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) on May 26 hosted an event announcing the upcoming First World Summit of African Descendants, which will take place on August 18- 21 in La Ceiba, Honduras.

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Determinants of Health

2011-03-21 14:31:36

A visualization of determinants of health portraying the various layers of social, economic, political, cultural, and environmental factors, sourced from Dahlgren and Whitehead (1991) (3). 



Through the work of researchers such as Sir Michael Marmot, we now understand that good health does not lie solely with medical interventions but also with living conditions and personal choices (4, 5). Determinants of health are lifestyle-based properties affected by broader social, economic, and political forces that influence quality of personal health. These attributes include but are not limited to education level, employment, income level and distribution, housing, childhood development, food security and nutrition, race, gender, and stress. Such factors have been shown to have marked associations with risks for different illnesses, life expectancy, and life-time morbidity. In recent decades, increasing health disparities in developed countries and between developing and developed countries have been associated with these social factors. While public health workers and policymakers seek to reduce this divide, they face challenges in designing and implementing programs that are comprehensive enough to address issues that have complex, long-term, causal relationships with specific disease pathways. However, both the motivation and action to develop effective research and intervention methods continue to grow in this field of public health (1).



Documents and publications



Related links

Areas of Work

  • Utilizing health promotion and health education approaches to promote informed, comprehensive, upstream participatory decision-making and action
  • Determining associations between social factors and health status  
  • Creating scientific methodologies for examining social factors in health
  • Reducing health disparities and promoting equal access to health care
  • Applying social theory to health and illness
  • Measuring and monitoring social factors
  • Human Security
  • Violence
  • Urban Health and Healthy Settings
  • Worker's Health 


The below figures demonstrate that improved social conditions and better health status often have a positive, step-wise, incremental gradient association (2). Click on the figure to enlarge:

Click to enlarge: Income and education disparities in child health by (a) infant mortality, (b) health status, (c) activity limitation, and (d) sedentary behavior: United States, 1999-2005

Click to enlarge: Income and eudcation disparities in adult health by (a) life expectancy, (b) health status, (c) heart disease, and (d) diabetes: United States, 1988-2007


  1. Braveman PA, Cubbin C, Egerter S, Williams DR. 2011. The social determinants of health: coming of age. Annu. Rev. Public Health 32:3.1-3.18
  2. Braveman PA, Cubbin C, Egerter S, Williams DR, Pamuk E. 2010. Socioeconomic disparities in health in the United States: what the patterns tell us. Am. J. Public Health 14:20–35
  3. Dahlgren G, Whitehead M. 1991. Policies and strategies to promote social equity in health: background document to WHO – strategy paper for Europe. Institute for Future Studies: Stockholm
  4. Marmot M. 2005. Social determinants of health inequalities. Lancet 365: 1099-1104
  5. Marmot MG, Davey Smith G, Stansfeld S, Patel C, North F, et al. 1991. Health inequalities among British civil servants: the Whitehall II study. Lancet 337:1387–93


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About the Assistant Director

2011-03-01 12:34:46

The Mexican researcher Francisco Becerra Posada was appointed Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO), effective 26 September 2013.

Dr. Becerra Posada, a national of Mexico, holds a Medical Degree from the Universidad Nacional de Mexico (UNAM), a Masters of Public Health Degree from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore Maryland, USA and a Doctorate in Public Health from the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico.

Dr. Becerra Posada has served in many important positions in the field of public health and in the area of health research and development over his career that spans more than 30 years.  Since November 2008, he has held several senior positions at the Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED), Switzerland, namely-Senior Consultant for Latin America, Head of Projects and Programs, and Senior Advisor/Coordinator for regional activities.  This later position is based in Mexico City, Mexico.  Prior to his tenure with COHRED, he worked in Mexico as Director General for the State of Morelos’ Health Services; the Joint Director General of the General Directorate for Federal Hospitals in the Ministry of Health; and Linkage Director responsible for Coordination for the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Becerra Posada has also worked as a consultant for numerous national and international organization including PAHO, as well as non-governmental organizations throughout the world.  He has authored many articles on public health and research, and has contributed to numerous academic publications.


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Development of an Intercultural Integral Health Information System (SIISI)

2010-04-30 13:42:45

The Intercultural Integral Health Information System called Rakin Mongen Boroa Filu lawen Pu Che aimed to support the records on care assistance and to manage the Boroa Filu lawen Health Center on intercultural and complementary aspects.

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