HENA’s Response: Catalyzing Health Equity in the Americas Implementing Recommendations from Newly Released Report from PAHO

[1 October 2019, Los Angeles, CA] A child born into poverty in Costa Rica has a better chance of a having a healthy life than a child born into poverty in the United States, according to the Just Societies, Health Equity and Dignified Lives report released today at the Pan American Health Organization in Washington, DC.

Professor Sir Michael Marmot MBBS, MPH, PhD, director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London and Chair of the PAHO Independent Commission on Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas released the report findings emphasizing that health is a human right. He urged policymakers, academics, community leaders and health professionals to

“do something, do more, do better.”

The report contains 12 recommendations that nations and communities must take to ensure health equity and wellbeing for all populations. Specific actions to be taken fall into these areas:

  1. Achieving equity in political, social, cultural and economic structures
  2. Protecting the natural environment, mitigating climate change and respecting relationships to land;
  3. Recognizing and reversing the health equity impacts of ongoing colonialism and structural racism;
  4. Promoting equity from the start – early life and education
  5. Making decent work available
  6. Promoting dignified life at older ages
  7. Ensuring income and social protection
  8. Reducing violence for health equity
  9. Improving the environment and improving housing conditions
  10. Implementing equitable health systems
  11. Securing government arrangements that support health equity
  12. Fulfilling and protecting human rights

The Health Equity Network of the Americas (HENA) supports these recommendations and will work with its 275-member network representing civil society, academia and government from 25 nations in the Americas. HENA members actively seek fair and just policies that support health equity; they take action by strengthening the workforce of the Americas with training on health equity, conducting research to identify policy gaps and impact of weak policies, and advocating for change through programming and interventions at local, state, national and international levels. Michael Rodriguez, MD, MPH, founding director of HENA, says:

“HENA is committed to promoting policies that affect health equity, and with this report’s recommendations, our members have milestones to champion health equity in their nations and communities.”

HENA’s Summary of Key Recommendations in our priority areas are available here.

About HENA:

The Health Equity Network of the Americas (HENA) is a vibrant, intersectoral community that seeks to drive action for a healthy future. Its membership represents civil society, government and academia from 25 nations in the Americas and the Caribbean.

  1. Mission: To promote knowledge sharing and intersectoral action for health equity and human rights as priority issues in the Americas.
  2. Vision: An intersectoral network dedicated to promoting health equity and equality in the Americas, especially for vulnerable populations.
  3. Goals:
    1. To identify, promote, and share health equity policies and practices based on a human rights approach
    2. To encourage action on promoting health equity through policies and practices that consider social determinants of health and human rights
    3. To monitor progress and impact of health-related policies

HENA is supported in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The full report can be found at on HENA’s Publications page.

To view the executive summary recommendations go to HENA’s Newsroom and Publications page.

Notes to Editor

  1. Both Sir Michael Marmot and Dr. Michael Rodríguez are available for interviews.
  2. Press kit is available at org. Kits include: backgrounders (FAQs, Fact Sheets); other data on health equity; photo images for Rodriguez and Marmot
  3. The PAHO Independent Commission was established by PAHO in 2016 to explore the drivers of health inequities and inequalities across the region and make concrete proposals for action. Professor Sir Michael Marmot chairs the commission that comprises 11 other members and secretariats at UCL and PAHO.