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Home > Intergovernmental institutions > World Health Organization >  WHA passes social determinants resolution

WHA passes social determinants resolution

The WHO member states keeps the Social Determinants of Health process on track by passing a resolution based on the commission report at the World Health Assembly last month. The Health Assembly next year will discuss a proposed global strategy to reduce harmful use of alcohol.

Øystein Bakke

The 62 World Health Assembly last month passed a resolution on “Reducing health inequities through action on the social determinants of health.” (WHA62.14) The resolution notes the three overarching recommendations of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health: to improve daily living conditions; to tackle the inequitable distribution of power, money and resources; and to measure and understand the problem and assess the impact of action. It also confirms the importance of addressing the wider determinants of health. By this resolution the WHO member states keeps the Social Determinants of Health process on track.

In its report the commission addressed a number of health determinants, including alcohol. The report points out that “processed foods and alcohol are two prime candidates for stronger global, regional, and national regulatory controls”. There is no direct mention of alcohol, or any other products, in the resolution.
In more general terms the member states agree on the need to be “Mindful of the important role of existing global governance mechanisms to support Member States in provision of basic services essential to health and the regulation of goods and services with a major impact on health, and the need for corporate responsibility.” The resolution requests a number of actions from both the member states and the Director-General. In addition it calls upon the international community, including United Nations agencies, intergovernmental bodies, civil society and the private sector to take note of the final report of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health and its recommendations.
The WHO activities arising from the resolution will be reported to the 65th World Health Assembly in 2012.
Separate alcohol track
Meanwhile the WHO secretariat continues it work to draft a “Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.” In early May the regional technical consultations with the member states were concluded. When a first draft is ready in a few weeks or months, further consultations with member states may be conducted before the final draft is put before the WHO Executive Board. Normally documents for the January board meeting will be available sometime in November/December.
After passing through the Executive Board a proposed global strategy will be up for discussion on the 63rd World Health Assembly in May next year.


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