The WHO has put the social determinants of health on the international agenda with the publication last month of Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health.
The report notes global facts such as:
- A child born in a particular suburb in Glasgow, Scotland suburb can expect a life 28 years shorter than another born only 13 kilometres away.
- A girl in Lesotho is likely to live 42 years less than another in Japan.
- In Sweden, the risk of a woman dying during pregnancy and childbirth is 1 in 17 400; in Afghanistan, the odds are 1 in 8.
It concludes: ‘Biology does not explain any of this. Instead, the differences between - and within - countries result from the social environment where people are born, live, grow, work and age.’
At this stage, the impact of gender is largely focused on women as clearly, in many parts of the world, it is women whose health is affected most adversely by their gender. But it is, said EMHF director Erick Savoye, ‘an important step’.
He added: ‘WHO’s thinking in terms of gender has traditionally been dominated by the concern for social inequities which tend to affect women more than men around the world, particularly in developing countries which WHO tends to naturally focus on. The link between gender and health has only recently been made and we’ll be working to try to ensure that it is developed to include men.’
As part of this process, the EMHF recently contributed a section on men's health to the EU-funded Global Health Report to be published shortly.