I spoke to a Conference Board Roundtable on the Social Determinants of Health in late October. The Roundtable intends to bring together government, community, research and business leaders to address ways to develop and implement public policy that would address the various social and economic determinants.
The presentation began from key structural and other barriers within governments and the political system that have limited action on the determinants. I focussed mostly on several areas where policy changes have or could make a difference: European states that have incorporated social determinants into their policy frameworks; examples of better inter-governmental coordination and collaboration from here and abroad; the many innovative ways in which front-line clinics and other community service providers have integrated a social determinants approach into their planning and programming; and the potential of community-based research to guide action on the social determinants of health. My main point was that while the prospect of transforming Canada into a Swedish-style welfare state may seem daunting, there are more immediate service innovations and policy directions that can be pursued that will have a significant impact.