WHO Europe- Advocating for Equity in Health delivery

World Health Organisation (WHO) Europe has many strategies to promote health and address the social determinants of health.1 These strategies can be grouped into areas of work such as promoting the health of vulnerable groups, strengthening local-level and sub-national level governance.1

The efforts towards improving health of populations experiencing poverty and social exclusion are undermined by the inability of health systems to provide equity.1 Insufficient  targeting on the determinants of health will also obstruct efforts to improve population health.1

Healthy cites: A powerful movement towards a sustainable solution

Achieving health and equity in the delivery of all local policies


Healthy Cities is a major public health movement and a beacon of hope  for efforts to achieve social justice.1 It is changing the how the local government, communities and individuals think and make decisions about health to create a more equitable and sustainable city.1 There are three prerequisites for city action including vision, organisation and networking. It is equally important how city administrations organise the delivery of this vision.1 WHO gives strategic leadership and technical support for reaching the goals of each five-year phase of Healthy Cities.1

Poverty and poor health are major challenges for cities.  Threats to good health for populations in cities include violence, social exclusion, pollution, lack of housing and unemployment.1 Efficient and well thought out city development and planning may be key to moving towards improved health equity for cities.1 Coherent policy and action is required by all government sectors and at various government levels. 1  Improvements to living standards will be based upon institutional changes and explicit political commitment.1 City governments have a vital role as advocates of health and especially providing tailored assistance to the most disadvantaged of groups.1

In the Regions for Health Network system, many nations within Europe have joined together to better address the social determinants of health and inequalities.1 As part of this health network program, within the countries participating, regions have been given defined political responsibilities.1 Involvement of stakeholders that are now working at sub-national levels has had positive results .1  For this progress to continue and expand more countries from Central and Eastern Europe may also be included in the future .1 It is however acknowledged that it can be challenging to design collaborative agreements which still work with the existing structures whilst catering to the diversity of newer arrangements.1 Successful approaches are likely those that undergo adaption and assessment before implementation.1 Evidence based approaches have been a goal for the members of the network system.1 Mutual commitment of WHO and sub-national bodies allows action to be based on a common agenda to promote health, reduce health inequities and strengthen regional governance in the area.1




  1. World Health Organisation (EU). Promoting health and reducing health inequities by addressing the social determinants of health [Internet]. World Health Organisation (EU); [cited 2014 Apr 5]. Available from: http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/141226/Brochure_promoting_health.pdf

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