Inequalities in health system performance and their social determinants in Europe

Inequalities in health are increasing in Europe. They exist between population groups within the same country and between countries across the European region. These inequalities lead to increased vulnerabilities in populations as well as increased differences in health behaviours and outcomes between population groups (whether measured by education, income, or employment). At the same time, there is a trend in a number of countries to devolve more responsibility for health systems to the regional levels.

As a result there is increased demand by policy makers for health information at regional level and for knowledge on the options for addressing socially determined health inequalities.  In particular how health system policies and their outcomes in various settings impact on inequalities and what actions can be taken to improve health equity. 

As a response, the WHO/Europe undertook the “Inequalities in health system performance and social determinants in Europe – tools for assessment and information sharing” project as a joint action with the European Commission. The focus of this action was on providing policy makers with practical tools and resources for building know-how and capacity for effective action on socially determined health inequalities (SDHI) with a particular focus on health systems actions.

There were two components: the first one was concerned with developing a set of interactive atlases as a tool to improve the evidence base for identifying and analysing social inequalities in health, in particular by recognizing regional patterns suggesting common determinants and focus for cost-effective interventions. The second component was concerned with the development of a range of resources to enable countries to take action to address socially determined health inequalities including: a web-based resource with examples of actions to address socially determined health inequalities.

Here you will find information and access about the project, its process and outcomes, which combine into a unique resource of information and evidence on health inequalities in Europe.