Reducing inequalities

Strategic objective 1: Improving health for all and reducing health inequalities

Implementing whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches

To ensure an integrated approach to health and development for all, Health 2020 calls for a re-think of mechanisms, processes, relationships and institutional arrangements across all sectors. To this end, it focuses on new forms of governance for health, in which health and well-being are seen as the responsibility of the whole of society and of government at all levels.

The policy outlines ways in which governments can:

  • engage broad public participation in policy-making more effectively;
  • address the demand to consider public values, priorities and concerns; and
  • adopt approaches that build community resilience, social inclusion, cohesion and assets for well-being.

Tackling inequities and the social determinants of health

The policy framework recommends actions that governments can take on social determinants:

  • developing universal policies to improve the health of everyone and so reduce the absolute effect of social determinants on all people;
  • targeting interventions to focus on those most affected; and
  • developing policies to address the social gradient in health directly, through interventions that are proportionate to the level of health and social need.

It presents new European evidence on effective interventions that address inequalities in the distribution of power, influence, goods and services, experiences in early life, living and working conditions, and access to good quality health care, schools and education, all of which underpin the health divide between and within countries.