Audience & purpose

This web-based resource and its companion publication – “Putting our own house in order: Examples of health system action on socially determined health inequalities” - have been designed primarily for policy advisers and entrepreneurs (1) involved in policy-making processes at national, sub-national and local levels and working within the health system in the WHO European Region.

Policy advisers and entrepreneurs can use the examples in the resource to develop a picture or options on how to take effective action within their own context by supporting and feeding action-oriented evidence and knowledge. The publication sets out some principles to use in reviewing the examples of health systems action on the web-based resource; and to assist in framing the design and development of their own policy response (2).

The resource is specifically designed for those who are working in an environment where there is a will to take action on inequalities (3) and who want to know (for example) how to:

  • tackle socially determined health inequalities (SDHI), and learn from some examples of actions that have been taken, including good practices;
  • take action as part of an overall health systems strengthening effort to address socially determined health inequalities including examples of actions;
  • improve the health of vulnerable groups such as those living in poverty, or who are homeless or vulnerable as a result of ethnic and other forms of discrimination;
  • tackle the social gradient and reduce the gap between most and least advantaged or between different social groups; and/or
  • put the findings and recommendations of the global Commission on Social Determinants of Health into practice in their country.

It may also assist those who have difficulties in identifying options for acting (3).


  1. Policy advisers and entrepreneurs refers to those actors involved in the policy-making process within and outside of government agencies, and who are responsible for developing evidence-informed options for action and or for advocacy purposes but who may not necessarily be the final decision-makers.   They are part of the wider community often referred to as policy-makers. However, a distinction is made because policy advisers and entrepreneurs are likely to seek to use much more detailed and technical information in developing policy options for decision-makers to consider (7: 3)
  2. Putting our own house in order: Examples of health system action on socially determined health inequalities. Studies on social and economic determinants of population health, No. 6. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe.
  3. Whitehead M. Diffusion of ideas on social inequalities in health: a European perspective. The Milbank Quarterly, 1998, 76(3):469–492.