taking a broader view: addressing maternal health in the context of food and nutrition security and poverty


Health of individuals, families, and communities is influenced by a multitude of social determinants, including poverty and food security. The Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) under the World Health Organization (WHO) published in 2008 the report, which critically studied the reasons behind inequities in health and challenged the conventional view of public health. The report asserts that health inequity is not natural and is avoidable, being influenced by the circumstances in which people grow, live, work, and age, and the systems put in place for them to deal with illness. These circumstances are shaped by political, social, and economic forces.

The Commission made several recommendations in three domains: (1) improving daily living conditions; (2) tackling inequities and distribution of power, money, and resources; and (3) measuring and understanding the problem and assessing the impact of action. In 2010, the Priority Public Health Conditions Knowledge Network under the Commission published the document “Equity, Social Determinants, and Public Health Programmes” that serves as a guide for those responsible for health programmes to work with other sectors to translate these recommendations to concrete actions. Of the many social determinants of health and maternal health, poverty is one of the strongest.