An ESMO statement at the 74th World Health Assembly welcomed the Resolution on Social Determinants of Health previously approved by the WHO Executive Board in January 2021. The Resolution supports achieving the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, many of which address the social, economic, and environmental determinants of health that can positively influence good health and well-being. It encourages Member States to address the social determinants of health by integrating them into public policies and programmes, including recovery plans from the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to prevent future public health emergencies, using the multi-sectorial approach of ‘health-in-all-policies’.
The World Health Assembly previously adopted resolutions on social determinants of health in 2009 after the report of the 2005-2008 WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health and in 2012 after the World Conference on Social Determinants of Health and the Rio Political Declaration on the Social Determinants of Health.
The 2021 Resolution lists actions for all stakeholders, and requests WHO to build on the previous resolutions and subsequent work done on this topic, and to submit to the 76th World Health Assembly in 2023 a report on how to implement the Resolution based on scientific evidence, knowledge and best practices. The report should provide information on the impact of social determinants of health on heath and health equity, the progress made to date on addressing them, and recommendations for future actions, and it should be accompanied by an operational framework for their monitoring and assessment.
The ESMO statement highlighted our Society’s recent support of a webinar by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on Socioeconomic Disparities and Cancer that reported the findings in IARC’s 2020 World Cancer Report that people who are marginalised or have lower socioeconomic status tend to have a higher incidence of certain types of cancers and higher mortality rates from most cancers compared to those with higher socioeconomic status. The ESMO statement called for global solutions that harness the potential of science, technology, and innovation to reduce health inequalities, increase equal access to essential medicines and health services, improve health literacy, and build resilient and sustainable health systems that benefit the health and well-being of people everywhere.