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Extra info for Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity Through Action on the Social Determinants of Health

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6 million people, (UNICEF, 2004). 3 million (UNHCR, 2005). Many countries spend more on the military than on health. Eritrea, an extreme example, spends 24% of GDP on the military and only 2% on health. Pakistan spends less on health and education combined than on the military (UNDP, 2007). Each European cow attracts a subsidy of over US$ 2/day, greater than the daily income of half the world’s population. 5 billion per year. Half of this money is spent on export subsidies, which damage local markets in low-income countries (Oxfam, 2002).

Rather, it is through the democratic processes of civil society participation and public policymaking, supported at the regional and global levels, backed by the research on what works for health equity, and with the collaboration of private actors, that real action for health equity is possible. Underpinning action on the social determinants of health and health equity is an empowered public sector, based on principles of justice, participation, and intersectoral collaboration. This will require strengthening of the core functions of government and public institutions, nationally and sub-nationally, particularly in relation to policy coherence, participatory governance, planning, regulation development and enforcement, and standard-setting.

TWO URGENT AGENDAS – HEALTH EQUITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE There is, at last, widespread recognition that disruption and depletion of natural environmental systems, including climate change, is not simply a technical discussion among environmental experts but has profound implications for the way of life of people globally and for all living organisms. It was beyond the remit, and competence, of the Commission to design a new international economic order that balances the needs of social and economic development of the whole global population, health equity, and the urgency of dealing with global warming.

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