ARCHIVED: Canada's Response to WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health – What's new


What's New

Health Equity Through Intersectoral Action: An Analysis of 18 Country Case Studies

"Health Equity Through Intersectoral Action: An Analysis of 18 Country Case Studies" - This synthesis is part of a joint initiative between the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), to increase knowledge and application of effective intersectoral approaches.

The report provides an analysis of key learnings about intersectoral action for health and health equity from the 18 country case studies (commissioned under this initiative). Some of the key themes and learnings identified in the report include:

  • building a strong case for intersectoral action is vital;
  • building trust among players is key to developing and maintaining intersectoral action;
  • models and structures to organize intersectoral action need to take a variety of forms depending on the context and conditions;
  • monitoring the on-going processes and outcomes of intersectoral work is critical; and
  • the role of the health sector needs to be flexible.

Crossing Sectors

Interested in learning more about intersectoral action, public policy and health? The Public Health Agency of Canada is pleased to announce the publication of a literature review which documents experiences in these important areas by academics, policy-makers and practitioners from more than 15 countries.

Crossing Sectors - Experiences in Intersectoral Action, Public Policy and Health represents the first phase of a Canadian initiative on intersectoral action for health. It will contribute to the World Health Organisation's Commission on Social Determinants of Health (SDH) and is the result of collaboration between the Regional Network for Equity in Health in East and Southern Africa (EQUINET), the Health Systems Knowledge Network of the Commission on SDH and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

7th Commissioners meeting in Geneva

The 7th meeting of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health took place January 17-19, 2007 in Geneva with guests Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos. The meeting reviewed findings of the interim reports from the global Knowledge Networks established to advise the Commission on policy approaches to address the social determinants of health.

A Roundtable brought together Aboriginal leaders and researchers to discuss social determinants of health, explore self determination as a determinant of health and to identify priorities for action, including Indigenous input to Knowledge Networks and collaboration with other countries to prepare a paper or presentation to the Commission

Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology Senate

Senator Wilbert Keon has moved that the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology be authorized to examine and report on the impact of the multiple factors and conditions that contribute to the health of Canada's population — known collectively as the social determinants of health. The committee will begin its work in early 2007 and submit its final report to the Senate in 2009.  

Intersectoral action

A literature review and limited number of case studies of Canadian intersectoral action to address the social determinants of health is now underway. It will identify conditions under which the activities achieved objectives, mechanisms used and barriers and challenges to effectiveness. Canada is also working in conjunction with the Health System Knowledge Network to further synthesize information from other countries affiliated with the Commission. 

Civil society engagement

A discussion forum will be held March 23, 2007 with approximately 50 stakeholders from a variety of sectors, including health, literacy, Aboriginal affairs, crime prevention, etc.  The objective of the discussion is to share insights and experiences, and explore new ideas, on effective ways for civil society and governments to improve the health of Canadians and reduce health inequalities/inequities through collaborative action on social determinants.

In 2006 the Canadian Reference Group profiled the WHO Commission at several key Canadian conferences and symposia.  What We Have Heard is a summary of participants' feedback on what needs to be done to advance action on social determinants of health in Canada. 

Following the initial meeting of the country partners in May 2006, another meeting of the country partners was held in October 2006 in London.  The main issues discussed at this meeting were financing the social determinants of health, peer group review, infant mortality & child health and mapping good practice on intersectoral action.  Canada is an active participant in all of these areas and will be involved in follow-up activities.

Economic arguments to support addressing social determinants of health

An initial meeting with England, Sweden, Chile, Canada and WHO was held in October 2006, in conjunction with the country partners meeting.   This meeting was an initial discussion on collaboration to advance economic arguments in support of addressing social determinants of health inequities.  Canada will convene an expert roundtable discussion to further its contribution to this effort.


The main outcome of the Conference Board Roundtable will be the development of a framework that demonstrates how determinants are inter-related to help delineate the roles of the various players within the federal, provincial, municipal governments, non-governmental organizations and the business community to provide common ground from which to address the social determinants of health.

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