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Health inequities: Social determinants and policy implications

Khadr ZA., Rashad H. Watts S., & Salem M. (2012)

In Public Health in the Arab World, (I. Nuwayhid, M. Khawaja, S. Jabbour & R. Giacaman, Eds.), New York, United States of America: Cambridge University press, 61-74.


This chapter presents evidence for health inequities, seen within a social-determinants-of-health (SDH) framework, and attempts to investigate the structural root causes of such inequities. It also attempts to assess whether declared health policies include an equity lens and to present the progress of a recent initiative attempting to support the adoption of intersectoral policies and SDH-based action for health equity in some Arab countries. Our driving question is whether the Arab countries are in need for policy reform to prioritize health equity not just in health policy but in all social and economic policies. The chapter is divided into five sections. The first includes a brief overview of the concept of health inequity within the SDH framework and its measurements. The second provides examples of cross- and within-country inequities and briefly discusses their underlying determinants. The third focuses on examining the place of health inequities in health policies. The fourth describes a regional initiative to promote intersectoral action to address health inequities and their social determinants. The final section provides a brief synthesis of the findings and their implications.

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