Health equity: much more than a focus on disease

There is no biological reason for the differences in levels of health and disease experienced by social groups within countries and between countries. To maintain good health and prevent chronic disease people need sufficient financial resources, control over their lives and representation in the processes that affect their health. Inequities in living conditions in early childhood, family life, education, employment, the built environment, access to healthful commodities (e.g. food) and health care affects health and its social distribution. Inequities in people’s daily living conditions are shaped by fiscal, labour, trade, social, land use and health policies; and cultural norms and values including gender norms and racism, which generate and distribute power, income, goods and services. Together these structural factors and daily living conditions constitute the social determinants of health inequity. In this talk I will describe the research behind these comments and discuss the policy and governance approaches that could help improve health equity.