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Health inequities arise because of a toxic combination of poor social policies, unfair economic arrangements and bad politics. These, in turn, affect the circumstances in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age. In this paper I draw on the experience of the World Health Organisation’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health to explore issues of global health governance and regulatory responses to the social determinants of health, and explore an interdisciplinary research agenda to help progress global health equity.
Sharon Friel is Director and Professor of Health Equity at the Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet), Australian National University. She is also Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy ANU. She is the Co-Director of the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in the Social Determinants of Health Equity. In 2010 she was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship to investigate the interface between health equity, social determinants and climate change, based at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, ANU. Between 2005 and 2008 she was the Head of the Scientific Secretariat (University College London) of the World Health Organisation Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Before moving to Australia, she worked for many years in the Department of Health Promotion, National University of Ireland, Galway.
Her interests are in the role of structural factors in affecting health inequities, including trade and investment, urbanisation, food systems, and climate change; and the analysis of governance, policy and regulatory processes and their effectiveness at addressing health inequities.