Slovenia committed to reducing health inequalities


Participants at the High-level forum on health equity in Slovenia, on 1 February 2011

“Slovenia has become a pathfinder for progress in addressing social determinants and tackling social inequities in health,” commented Ms Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe, in her closing address at a high-level forum on health equity in Slovenia on 1 February 2011.

Reducing health inequalities is central to Ms Jakab’s agenda, and a key component of her vision of establishing a new health policy for Europe, Health 2020.

At the forum, cross-government commitment and coordination, and intercountry collaboration were identified as key factors in reducing inequities and promoting health: a crucial resource for development. The Slovenian Government was praised for not only securing high-level representation from across its sectors but also welcoming participants from the wider health community in south-eastern Europe.

Hosted by Dr Dorijan Marušič, Minister of Health of the Republic of Slovenia, the forum brought together participants from other ministries including the ministers of Labour, Family and Social Affairs and of Education and Sport.

On behalf of the ministries represented, Dr Marušič expressed commitment to joint action, and underlined Slovenia’s role as an active partner in developing Health 2020. He added that Slovenia advocates health equity in its capacity as neighbour and sponsor of the South-eastern Europe (SEE) Health Network, as well as its work with European organizations and countries.

Other high-level participants included Dr Safet Omerović, Minister of Health of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Professor Ranko Škrbić, Minister of Health and Social Welfare of Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Professor Tomica Milosavljević, former Minister of Health of Serbia.

Social determinants of health: European review

The new health policy for Europe will be developed through a participatory process and underpinned by evidence covering the WHO European Region. A central component of this evidence will come from a European review of the social determinants of health and the health divide, chaired by Professor Sir Michael Marmot, United Kingdom. Speaking in Slovenia, he explained that the review will: 

  • investigate gaps in knowledge;
  • identify priority policy areas and propose potentially effective interventions across the diverse countries in the Region; and
  • produce a framework for targets and indicators.

This work will cover eight key areas:

  • early years, education and the family;
  • employment and working conditions, including occupation, unemployment and migrant workers;
  • social exclusion, disadvantage and vulnerability;
  • gross domestic product, taxation, income and welfare;
  • sustainability and community;
  • ill health prevention and treatment;
  • gender; and
  • older people.

The final report is due to submitted to the WHO Regional Committee for Europe in September 2012.