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Equity and social contexts for health outcomes

In this article Dr. Tanya Marchant discusses the importance of society on health to improve health outcomes.
© London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

The importance of country context is central to thinking about improving health outcomes, especially in the transferability of health care solutions from one place to another.

We need to ask questions about a country to better understand its needs.

What questions should we be asking?

For example, how much of the population lives in rural areas? What type of infrastructure is available? Who gets educated and to what level? How does the health system function? What is the influence of law and policy? Is there political will and leadership for change?.

The life cycle approach

Reflecting on our life cycle approach we have repeatedly heard about the importance of empowering girls and women: having the freedom to make safe, healthy choices, having a voice and social acceptance, and having access to mechanisms for accountability.

And this links to the topic of vulnerability which has also been emphasised, including socio-economic disadvantage which can accumulate from conception through childhood and into adulthood.

Several mechanisms can lead to this situation from low levels of awareness, restriction of movement because of traditions and norms or because of being in areas with poor accessibility, legal restrictions, cultural or language barriers between families and health staff, or vulnerability because of inability to afford the cost of medical care.

The era of sustainable goals

The era of the Sustainable Development Goals challenges us to acknowledge the influence of issues beyond the health system on health outcomes. If you’d like to learn more about improving the health of women, children and adolescents, check out the full online course from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, below.

© London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
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Improving the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents: from Evidence to Action

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