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ICSDH Technical Assistance

Under the umbrella of the International Collaboration on the Social Determinants of Health (ICSDH), the technical assistance programme has been developed and partners to it are the Faculty of Public Health in the UK, the WHO Office for Health Development and Investment in Venice and the Department of Health in England. 

The Health Action Partnership International (HAPI) is the engine room for the work and provides the management and secretariat functions. 

This programme aims to provide support to countries who wish to develop capacity, systems and mechanisms to address the social determinants of health and it does this in a range of ways:

  • Assessing assets and needs in countries that request assistance and matching these to appropriate support by organisations and individuals.

  • Providing “consultancy” by members of the wider public health workforce in England and international networks.
  • Providing capacity building and mentoring opportunities for public health providers who wish to work internationally.
  • Matching organisations, regions and others who wish to develop long-term exchange and learning relationships.
  • Identifying information sources, links with other organisations and networks that can help to fill identified need and build assets.


In the European region, the WHO Office for Investment for Health and Development identifies countries that wish to take advantage of this programme.  They help the country to define its need and the added capacity that it would find of most help.

The Faculty of Public Health, through its networks and wider membership, is able to identify professionals form the workforce in England who are best able to meet the needs of the countries.

The HAPI secretariat identifies interested experts to contribute, disseminate learning and manage the process.

Global Context

Many of the issues that affect people’s health are most amenable to action at the global level and many countries have taken up the challenge to think globally and act locally. The technical assistance programme has contacts with many other countries and has been working closely with colleagues in India, countries in Africa, extensively across the wider Europe, and with colleagues in the PAHO region of the Americas and the Caribbean.

European context

All countries in Europe face the challenge of inequalities in health and work by Professor Ken Judge and Professor Johan Mackenbach commissioned by the Department of Health during the UK presidency of Europe identified issues both within and between countries.  It is in the best interest of all countries in the wider Europe that we work together to map and build our understanding of the issues and to share learning on best practice in what works to address them.  The technical assistance programme has long-standing relationships with people working on these issues in the European Union and across the 53 member states of WHO. 

National Context in England

The DH for England has been drawing on lessons learnt from the WHO initiated Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, to develop action for the future and new indicators for success for 2015 and 2020.  It is interested in learning form other countries and international experience in developing this work.  It also has a commitment to support work in other countries who are developing their health systems, and to share expertise and learning in the context of a cross-government strategy, Health is Global.

In England, professionals at all levels are keen to continue their development and to engage with international partners as part of this process.  At a meeting organised by Faculty of Public Health, public professionals from across disciplines identified the lack of opportunity to work in and with other countries as a barrier to their professional development. However, it is recognised that these opportunities would have dual beneficial effect, that is the country that they work in gets additional capacity, while the professional has the space to refresh their thinking and explore differing models of delivery.

In commissioning this work, DH was able to bring its experience of working at the international and national levels to the development of the programme, and has explicit links to regional and local work through a network established in England focusing on international engagement on the Social Determinants of Health and Health Inequalities.