Health Policy Manag.  2016 Dec;26(4):256-264. 10.4332/KJHPA.2016.26.4.256.

Public Health Policy and Health Equity

  • 1School of Public Health, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.


Equity-focused public health policy has solid theoretical and practical basis, in addition to ethical one. In the Republic of Korea (hereafter Korea), however, equity in health has not had a high priority in policy goals, regardless of policy areas and particular actors or approaches. Equitable health has been only a minor concern in most public health issues and their decision-making. Generic public health policies are needed to reduce inequity in health, but the importance of a firm basis for sound policy-making cannot be overemphasized. Health equity should be ‘mainstreamed’ in all public health policies. Potential approaches include intersectoral collaboration, health impact assessment, and ‘Health in All Policies’. Public policy agendas for equitable health cannot be formulated without measurement and recognition of the problem. Korea is still suffering from the lack of reliable information on the current status of health inequity, resulting in a relatively weak awareness of the problem among both the general public and policy-makers. More information is needed to increase recognition and awareness that will increase intervention and actions. The absence of decision-making and actions should not be justified even by the lack of information on determinants and pathways of health inequities. Generic plausible solutions can often work in the real world according to political and social commitment. I have discussed several aspects of public health policy from the perspective of health equity, focusing on current status and plausible explanation. Policy process, agenda setting in particular, is highlighted and theories and concepts are presented along with analysis and description of current situation.


Public health; Policy; Health equity; Intersectoral collaboration; Social determinants of health
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