GHC Statement on Social Determinants of Health at the 148th WHO Executive Board

January 25, 2021

The following statement—from Global Health Council, supported by The Hunger Project was submitted to the 148th session of the WHO Executive Board on Agenda Item 16: Social determinants of health.

We urge WHO to take a strong, collaborative approach to address the social determinants of health. 

Local government and school systems, traditional and religious leaders, the media, associations of women, youth and marginalized groups all have a key role in transforming norms and behaviors at the community level required for good health. 

Primary health centers can become the anchor for whole-of-society campaigns. WHO can help local health system actors gain voice in local governance to serve as authoritative catalysts for collective action in their service areas. 

A key lesson from the current pandemic is the role of community leaders in building trust in health systems – a key social determinant. The Global Action Plan has wisely made determinants of health, primary health care and community engagement as key accelerators, and these must be implemented as an integrated strategy.