The social determinants of health – the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age and people’s access to power, money and resources – are the major drivers of health inequities. Unfavourable social determinants of health for vulnerable groups have meant higher rates of chronic disease that increase their risk of poor outcomes from COVID-19, greater exposure to the COVID-19 virus, lesser capacity to adhere to public health and social measures, and poorer access to health services for treatment and vaccination.
Exposure to the social determinants of health risk having generational effects, and increasing health inequities not only in the current pandemic but also many years into the future. This WHO evidence brief examines the influence of the social determinants of health on the current COVID-19 pandemic, focusing on the inequities of impact. The findings are drawn from a rapid systematic review of global evidence. The report highlights the importance of developing a sustained, collaborative approach that reaches across health, social and economic actors, across communities and countries.
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