Journal Article

Equity and social determinants of health at a city level

Anna Ritsatakis

in Health Promotion International

Volume 24, issue suppl_1, pages i81-i90
Published in print November 2009 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online November 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI:
Equity and social determinants of health at a city level

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Equity in health has been the underlying value of the WHO Health for All policy for 30 years, distinguished from equality and difference in a commissioned series of theoretical reports in the early 1990s. This article examines how cities translated this principle into action. Using information designed to help evaluate Phase III (1998–2002) of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network, plus documentation from city programmes and websites, an attempt is made to assess how far stakeholders in cities understood the concept of equity in health, had the political will to tackle the issue and the types of action undertaken. Results show that cities focused mainly on support for vulnerable groups, and a wide range of actions were being implemented, including lifestyle-oriented methods or those to improve access to care. Few cities made the necessary shift towards more upstream policies to tackle determinants of health such as poverty, unemployment and housing. There was little experience of evaluating the impact of interventions to reduce the gaps. This is partly explained by a frequent lack of local level data reflecting inequalities in health. The article concludes that although half the cities in the Network needed stronger action to make equity in health an integral part of long-term planning, innovative experience was available to be shared by its members in Phase IV (2003–2008) of the Network.

Keywords: equity; Healthy Cities; social determinants; health equality

Journal Article.  5486 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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