Addressing social, economic and environmental determinants of health and the health divide in the context of sustainable human development

23 Jan 2017

Summary

Social, economic and environmental factors are embedded in development as the three interlinking pillars of sustainable human development. They also, to a large extent, determine population health and the distribution of health. Health Inequities are avoidable, unjust systematic differences in health between groups with different levels of social advantage and disadvantage.

While this is widely acknowledged, the effects of Social, Economic and Environmental Determinants (SEEDs) of health and health equity are rarely fully addressed in development policy and practice. This means that opportunities to maximize co-benefits for health and development are often missed.

Building on the conceptual work done by and following the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, UNDP has been working with the Institute of Health Equity at University College London to pioneer the systematic integration of SEEDs of H/HE into its development projects at country level.

Phase I

Phase I of UNDP’s SEEDs of Health and Health Equity project looked into the realities of UNDP’s work on the ground. The report, ‘Ensure healthy lives and well-being for all: Addressing the Social, Economic and Environmental Determinants of Health and the Health Divide in the Context of Sustainable Human Development,’ shows how closely interlinked the work on health and development is, to what degree development practitioners are aware of it and suggests how a more conscious strategy to optimize the impact on health and health equity through development work could become the blueprint for UNDP’s contribution to a multi-sectoral, rights-based approach to health and human well-being.

Phase II

Phase II of UNDP’s SEEDs of Health and Health Equity project focuses on designing a methodology and toolkit to support the UN and national partners to respond to the increasing complexity and interconnectedness of health and development by connecting the dots across the Sustainable Development Goals and putting people at the core of sustainable development.

Systematically integrating the SEEDS of H/HE into development projects requires targeted action to identify and prioritize SEEDs of health and dimensions of inequity in development projects; to develop strategies to optimize health and development co-benefits and promote health equity and monitor health and development co-benefits throughout project implementation. 

The SEEDs Equity Identifier – UNDP’s SEEDs of H/HE Screening Tool for Development Practitioners is an easy-to-use screening tool that enables development practitioners to identify SEEDs of H/HE components in their projects during planning and implementation. Its methodology is based on the work done by the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health and has been adapted to meet the needs of routine development project management. Based on two screening checklists of SEEDs of health and dimensions of inequities, the screening identifies and prioritizes SEEDs and inequities as focus areas to optimize health and development co-benefits during project implementation.

The Guidance Note – On identifying and prioritizing SEEDs of Health and Health Equity using the SEEDs Equity Identifier – Part A provides guidance on the timing and steps for conducting the screening. It also gives specific instructions for users of the SEEDs Equity Identifier and examples to help identify and prioritize SEEDs of health and dimensions of inequity in development projects.  

The SEEDs Glossary conceptualizes and defines all SEEDs of health applied in UNDP’s SEEDs of health and health methodology and toolkits to ensure a common understanding among users.  

The Screening Results – Using the SEEDs Equity Identifier at UNDP Belarus draws together the results of a range of project screenings done for UNDP Belarus’ Energy and Environment and HIV, Health and Development portfolios.

The Evaluation Report – Testing the SEEDs Equity Identifier evaluates the SEEDs Equity Identifier and assesses its usability in the context of development projects, based on evidence generated during the piloting of the tool in Belarus. 

 

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