Closing the Gap: A Human Rights Approach towards Social Determinants of Health

In: European Journal of Health Law
View More View Less
  • 1 University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
  • 2 University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


Social determinants of health are major contributors to population health as well as health inequalities. The public perception that health inequalities that arise from these social determinants are unjust seems to be widespread across societies. Nevertheless, there is also scepticism about the progress in the implementation of actual policies to reduce health inequalities. Scholars, activists and policy makers from various disciplinary backgrounds increasingly stress the value of the human rights approach to support policies addressing health inequalities, and to hold actors in policies to address social determinants accountable for these inequalities. The ‘right to health’, in conjunction with the other health-related human rights, captures most elements of social determinants of health, and makes clear appeals to the governmental authorities at all levels to take action when social injustices occur. Existing judicial and non-judicial cases show us how human rights can be instrumental in addressing inequalities in health.

  • 5

    P. Hunt, ‘Missed opportunities: human rights and the Commission on Social Determinants of Health’, Global Health Promotion 16 (2009) 36-44; S. Venkatapuram, R. Bell and M. Marmot, ‘The right to sutures: social epidemiology, human rights, and social justice’, Health and Human Rights 12 (2010) 3-16; A.R. Chapman, ‘The social determinants of health, health equity and human rights’, Health and Human Rights 12 (2010) 17-30; P. Braveman, ‘Social conditions, health equity, and human rights’, Health and Human Rights 12 (2010) 31-48; B. Toebes, A. Hendriks and K. Stronks, ‘Health Inequalities and the Social Determinants of Health’, in: B. Toebes et al. (eds.), Health and Human Rights in Europe (Antwerp: Intersentia, 2012), pp. 213-225.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 20

    A.E. Yamin, ‘Beyond compassion: The central role of accountability in applying a human rights framework to health’, Health and Human Rights 12 (2008) 1-20.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 21

    H. Potts, Accountability and the Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health (Essex: University of Essex Human Rights Centre/Open Society Institute, 2008).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 414 210 10
Full Text Views 332 64 5
PDF Downloads 58 23 1