WHO establishes Commission on Social Determinants of Health for the Eastern Mediterranean Region

Update 2019

The UCL Institute of Health Equity has begun work on the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region Commission on Social Determinants of Health.

The World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (WHO/EMRO) is convening a Commission on Social Determinants of Health (SDH) in the Eastern Mediterranean Region. The Commission is jointly being convened by WHO/EMRO, the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research (AHPSR) and the Institute for Health Equity at the University College London (IHE/UCL).

Professor Sir Michael Marmot will chair this Commission. The Commission aims to establish a comprehensive evidence base of health inequalities in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, the factors which drive such inequalities; and assess practical ways of addressing these within the context of the Member States of the Region, including those facing conflict and emergencies.

The Commission will work over a period of one year: from October 2019 to September 2020. There will be three meetings held in November 2019, April and July 2020, together with virtual meetings. A final report will be prepared, to be published by WHO/EMRO and presented to EMR Regional Committee.

VIEW: Handbook for the first expert group meeting EMRO Commission on social determinants of health.

Specifically the Commission will:

  • Analyze and present existing data on health inequalities and social determinants of health, including conflict in the Eastern Mediterranean context;
  • Document actions being taken by international organizations, governments, NGOs, civil society and communities to address these issues;
  • Build knowledge and evidence for action and offer practical, specific recommendations to reduce health inequalities;
  • Provide strategic guidance on developing plans for equity including governance and monitoring systems for health equity; and
  • Identify opportunities to build capacity through research and evaluation of health inequities, and programs for action; and establish knowledge networks across the Eastern Mediterranean Region.

 VIEW: Leaflet about the Commission


In a statement about the new commission and his appointment as Chair, Professor Marmot wrote: 


I was delighted to be asked by the Director of EMRO to chair the EMR Commission on Social Determinants of Health. The Commission demonstrates a determination by the Director of EMRO and colleagues to take a hugely significant and active role in reducing avoidable health inequalities which, as in other regions, blight the lives of so many in EMR. These health inequalities are not only the result of unequal access to health care, but they arise from inequities in the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.The EMR Commission will build on the work of the Global Commission on the Social Determinants of Health (2008) and subsequent regional reports in Euro and PAHO. Both regional commissions have added to evidence and supported prioritisation and action on health inequalities. It is expected that the EMR Commission will build knowledge, capacity and ambition on the social determinants of health inequalities and support the regions, member states and stakeholder to take action.


Prof. Marmot and Dr Allen were previously invited to present a commentary (2015) on WHO EMRO | Health priorities and the social determinants of health. The full commentary can be read and downloaded by following this link.