Wilensky & Satcher 2009

Wilensky & Satcher 2009 - Perspectives Perspective...

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Perspective Don’t Forget About The Social Determinants Of Health Although important for all age groups, factors not related to medical care are particularly salient for the healthy development of children. by Gail R. Wilensky and David Satcher ABSTRACT: The Obama administration faces daunting challenges to reform health care. The authors, commissioners on the World Health Organization’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, believe that strategies to improve health by affecting the social de- terminants may gain bipartisan support. These determinants—including the effects of pov- erty, education, the treatment of women, employment opportunities, and limited access to medical care for some—are as important in promoting health, if not more so, than the direct medical determinants of health. Focusing on these determinants makes more sense than waiting until people become sick and seek care, and it often costs much less. [ Health Af- fairs 28, no. 2 (2009): w194–w198 (published online 16 January 2009; 10.1377/hlthaff .28.2.w194)] H ealth care reform once again is high on the policy agenda of an in- coming president, after having been debated extensively during the campaign. De- spite the differences between the major-party candidates, there was much they agreed on— including the basic recognition that we spend much more on health care than other coun- tries do without having comparable improve- ments in health outcomes. Although there is a clear need to improve the performance of the delivery system, the two of us are hopeful that the country will begin to recognize the im- portance of an even more fundamental set of issues: the so-called social determinants of health. These include the effects of poverty, education, early childhood education, treat- ment of women, employment opportunities, and individual empowerment on humans’ health status and life expectancy. Social Determinants: Background We have spent the past three years as com- m i s s ion e r sonth eW o r ldH ea l thO rg an iza- tion’s (WHO’s) Commission on the Social De-
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Wilensky & Satcher 2009 - Perspectives Perspective...

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