Equity in Health Policy Assessment: Region of the Americas

The Region of the Americas has prioritized the achievement of health equity—“the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people, whether these groups are defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically” (WHO)—both through regional agreements, such as the Sustainable Health Agenda for the Americas (2017), and by reporting progress toward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (the Sustainable Development Goals) (2015). Public sector policy is the principal initial lever through which both national and local governments institute and finance actions toward accelerating the achievement of equity in health.

This study assessed 32 national health plans to report on whether and how countries in the Region are integrating the achievement of health equity into strategic lines of action in the health sector. It provides a snapshot of approaches and advances, allowing for knowledge sharing among countries on options for attention to equity in health policy. It will also facilitate future monitoring of trends in the integration of health equity aims and approaches in policies.

The study found that stated overall commitments to health equity are common, as are commitments toward the disaggregation of data and monitoring of inequalities, while other elements of health equity like, for example, the identification of populations in situations of vulnerability, receive less attention. While further study is needed on the implementation and impacts of approaches in specific programmatic actions, the study provides useful insights to inform efforts for a stronger framework for health equity action toward the Region’s goals for 2030.