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Health inequalities are a global concern. Poverty, social exclusion, poor housing and poor health systems are among the main causes of ill-health”

WHO Social Determinants of Health Factfile


The UN’s Millennium Development Goals are recognised as the world’s vision to tackle the causes and effects of poverty by 2015. Three of these goals relate specifically to health outcomes, notably;

  • The reduction of childhood mortality
  • The improvement of maternal health
  • The eradication of HIV/AIDS and malaria.

In addition, the other five Millennium Development Goals are indirectly addressing health inequalities because they target social determinants of health. An update on progress with theMillennium Development Goals and a consideration of the obstacles to success can be downloaded from the World Health Organization website.

The World Health Organization’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health supports countries and global health partners to address the social factors leading to ill-health and to focus on health inequities.  The Commission has published the reports of the Knowledge Networks. These reports set out the state of current knowledge and recommendations for action in terms of early child development, health systems, urban settings, employment, women and gender equity and measurement and evaluation.

The World Health Organization has developed the Global Health Observatory a new website that serves as a one-stop shop for data and analyses on health priorities around the world. The Observatory provides easy access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of health data, bringing together WHO’s data from all major health and disease programmes. It includes easy access to over 50 databases and 800 indicators with analyses of the global health situation and trends, covering priority health topics such as child, maternal and reproductive health, infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases and risk factors, environmental health, mortality and burden diseases, road safety, health systems and equity.

How can I find out more about global/international health inequalities: