Article Text

other Versions

Download PDFPDF
Primary Health Care and the Social Determinants of Health: Essential and Complementary Approaches for Reducing Inequities in Health
  1. Kumanan Rasanathan1,*,
  2. Eugenio Villar Montesinos1,
  3. Don Matheson2,
  4. Carissa Etienne1,
  5. Tim Evans1
  1. 1 World Health Organization, Switzerland;
  2. 2 Massey University, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to: Kumanan Rasanathan, World Health Organization, IER/ETH, World Health Organization, avenue Appia 20, Geneva, 1211, Switzerland; rasanathank{at}


Increasing focus on health inequities has brought renewed attention to two related policy discourses - primary health care and the social determinants of health. Both prioritise health equity and also promote a broad view of health, multisectoral action and the participation of empowered communities. Differences arise in the lens each applies to the health sector with resultant tensions around their mutual ability to reform health systems and address the social determinants. However, pitting them against each is unproductive. Health services which do not consciously address social determinants exacerbate health inequities. If a revitalised primary health care is to be the key approach to organise society to minimise health inequities, action on social determinants has to be a major constituent strategy. Success in reducing health inequities will require ensuring that the broad focus of primary health care and the social determinants is kept foremost in policy - instead of the common historical experience of efforts being limited to a part of the health sector.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


Linked Articles