Human Rights, Social Inclusion and Health Equity in International Donors' Policies

Arne Henning Eide, Mutamad Amin, Malcolm MacLachlan, Hasheem Mannan, Marguerite Schneider


Background: Health policies have the potential to be important instruments in achieving equity in health. A framework – EquiFrame - for assessing the extent to which health policies promote equity was used to perform an equity audit of the health policies of three international aid organizations.

Objective: To assess the extent to which social inclusion and human rights feature in the health policies of DFID (UK), Irish Aid, and NORAD (Norway).


Method: EquiFrame provides a tool for analyzing equity and quality of health policies with regards to social inclusion and human rights. Each health policy was analyzed with regards to the frequency and content of a predefined set of Vulnerable Groups and Core Concepts.

Results: The three policies vary but are all relatively weak with regards to social inclusion and human rights issues as defined in EquiFrame. The needs and rights of vulnerable groups for adequate health services are largely not addressed.

Conclusion: In order to enhance a social inclusion and human rights perspective that will promote equity in health through more equitable health policies, it is suggested that EquiFrame can be used to guide the revision and development of the health policies of international organizations, aid agencies and bilateral donors in the future.


Limitations: Analyses are limited to “policy on the books” and does not measure how effectively vulnerable groups are included in mainstream health policy work.

doi 10.5463/DCID.v23i4.144


Health documents; international donors; low-income countries

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