Health inequalities are present throughout the world, both within and between countries. The Commission on Social Determinants of Health drew attention to dramatic social gradients in health within most countries and made proposals for action. These inequalities are not inevitable. The purpose of this article is to report on activity that has taken place worldwide after the report by the Commission on Social Determinants of Health. First, we summarise the global situation. Second, we summarise an interim report of the emerging findings from an independent review of social determinants and the health divide, which was commissioned by the WHO European region. The world conference on social determinants of health will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in October, 2011. This summit provides an opportunity to galvanise support, prioritise action, and respond to the call by the Commission on Social Determinants of Health for social justice as a route to a fair distribution of health.
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