Research Themes|Health Inequities

Health Inequities and Their Policy Implications
The Social Research Center (SRC) is actively pursuing a program of policy research and outreach for social justice and health equity in Arab countries (PR04HE/Arab). PRO4E is needed to support the adoption and successful implementation of governance and policy reforms seeking to address serious challenges on the social justice and health equity fronts that are undermining the wellbeing of social groups and the cohesion and sustainability of the society. 
The objective of the proposed program is to contribute to the promotion of a fair distribution of health and wellbeing (Health Equity) and to the realization of development aspirations as well as to the cohesion and sustainability of the society by advocating for governance and policy reforms pushing challenges on social justice and health equity to the forefront as well as by supporting the successful implementation of reforms. 

    • Achieve a knowledge and framing shift recognizing the large disparities in health among social groups, the nature of such disparities which extends beyond physical dimensions and incorporates psychosocial dimensions, and the spread of disparities to non- traditional social groups defined around concepts related to positions, power and voices.  More importantly a framing shift linking the disparities to their root causes of bad governance, of denial of social justices, and of ineffective whole of government policies.

    • Support a value and paradigm shift recognizing the centrality of fairness for wellbeing and meeting aspirations and for achieving national development. Also a paradigm shift pushing health and well-being equity as a whole of government development goal and as a performance measure of good governance and societal success.

    • Support a policy shift through guiding the adoption and the implementation of a health equity strategy and a whole of government policies and intersectoral actions that are anchored on social justice and are known to produce a demonstrated impact on health and wellbeing equity.

    The program seeks to encourage a movement that is precipitated by regional players who understand the importance of having the distribution of health and wellbeing as a measure of success, who have access to data and evidence to demonstrate the extent of challenges, who have capacity to use the available data and evidence to demonstrate the need for action. More importantly than creating a demand for action is to demonstrate that solutions exist and are feasible and cost effective.

    The program is driven by a concern that health equity is not realized and that the current policies delegate actions on this front to the health sector not recognizing social determinants of health. Clearly current policies can not effectively reduce the unfair and remediable inequalities in health.

  • SRC is a full and active participant in the international equity and active development discourse, and has succeeded in forging strong working relations with international development partners supporting the health equity agenda. It also enjoys a regional presence with many governmental institutions and active players in the region.

    Examples of Activities:

    • SRC has joined forces with three prestigious international development partners leading the health equity agenda: World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA)/ASRO and International Development Research Center (IDRC). These organizations embrace the principles of human rights and health equity as cornerstones for the realization of the International Conference for Population and Development (ICPD) agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) in the region.

    • In particular, SRC collaboration with the three partners have focused on three distinct aspects allowing complementarity, cross-fertilization and achievement of impact.

    • A large number of grants from these development partners have allowed SRC to produce key, conceptual, methodological and policy relevant contributions, as well as to acquire visibility.

    • SRC and its members have served and continue to serve as central players in international, regional forums, and public health scholars networks. These include past service as member of two influential WHO commissions, as well as current service in a newly established Commission on social determinants of health in Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office (EMRO) region, as well as advisory services in committees reporting to WHO director general and EMRO regional representative. SRC also currently has a number of formal collaborative activities with policy bodies in Morocco, Sudan, Jordan, Oman and Egypt.

    • A good number of scholarly outputs in international journal, influential reports and participation as invited speakers in important international and regional events.

  • Recent Research

    • Sexual and Reproductive Health Inequities in the Arab Region: SRC is currently serving as an implementing partner of the 2018-2019 work plan of the Arab States Regional office of UNFPA/ASRO. 

    Egypt Report

    * A number of research outputs is in the process of peer-reviewed publications.  

    Training Activities and Workshops

    • Research Methods for Guiding Policy and Evaluation: The SRC organizes on an annual basis a three-month training program on Research Methods for Guiding Policy and Evaluation, responsive to the needs of development activities in the Arab region, particularly in the fields of population and health. For more information, click here
    • Health Equity and Reproductive Health Workshop: An annual regional workshop that addresses issues of health inequities and social determinants of health with an application in reproductive health. The workshop aims to support researchers, policy planners and practitioners to adopt an equity lens particularly in the area of reproductive health. Over the last two rounds, 47 participants were trained in these new issues. For more information, click here.
    • Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity in the Arab Region Program: This program was conducted with the support from EMRO (WHO's Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean) and included researchers training and capacity building, developing evidence based health inequity research and dissemination of that research.

    Related Advisory Services

    • Hoda Rashad, SRC director, is a member of the EMRO WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health and was member of the WHO global as well as regional (EMRO) Advisory Committee on Health Research (ACHR), Cairo and Geneva. (2007 - 2016)
    • Zeinab Khadr worked extensively on investigating issues of health equity in the Arab countries. She contributed to researchers capacity building in the assessment of health equity.  She also acted as a chair for the International Union of Scientific Studies of Population Scientific panel on Health Equity and Policy in the Arab World, and as a member of the Global Research Network on Urban Health Equity (GRNUHE)
    • Sherine Shawky is a member of the EMRO network working on strengthening the health system in the Arab region and a member of the MENA region group working with Columbia University and UCLA on HIV/AIDS.

    Softcopies of recent faculty publications

    • Reproductive Health Equity in the Arab Region: Fairness and Social Success. Click here
    • Health Inequalities in Jordan and their Social Determinants:Evidence and Policy Implications. Click here 
    • Enhancing the Accountability and Performance through Promotion of the Right to Health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region: SRC works in close collaboration with the medical officer, Health and Human Rights PHP/HSD to develop the training materials and identify the trainers for a course on Right to Health. SRC will deliver a one week course for 10 to 15 Egyptian nationals in collaboration with WHO EMRO and WHO CO Egypt in the second quarter of 2014.
    • Determining Factors Associated with the Rise in Levels of Stunting in Lower Egypt Compared to Upper Egypt: A collaborative project between USAID-funded SMART project and the Social Research Center AUC. The study aims to understand the cultural beliefs and perceptions that influence feeding practices among the mothers (150 postpartum women) who have children 0 to 23 months of age, as well as the fathers, the grandmothers and health providers. The study used the trials for improved practices (TIPs) methodology to identify problems and council and motivate mothers to make small, flexible changes in feeding their children.
    • Urban Differentials in Early Marriage: SRC carried out a comprehensive investigation on the structural and behavioral factors underlying early marriage and risky reproductive health practices among the youth in urban settings.

    For the full list of projects on health inequities in the period from 2005 to 2012, click here

  • Project title

    Leading Researchers

    Granting Agency

    Amount USD 

    Start date 

    End date 

    Health Inequalities in Jordan and their Social Determinants: Evidence and Policy Implications

    Hoda Rashad

    Zeinab Khadr

    Sherine Shawky

    WHO country Office


    October 1, 2019


    December  31, 2019 


    Equity/SDH in Health Information Systems to inform Policies and Guide Reproductive Health Programs

    Hoda Rashad 

    Sherine Shawky

    Zeinab Khadr




    September 1, 2019

    December 31, 2022


    Developing a learning platform of the Eastern Mediterranean region to achieve the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    Laila El Zeini

    Ramadan Hamed 

    Hoda Rashad 



    May 20, 2019

    October 30, 2020

    2019 Implementation of UNFPA FUNDED Work plans Relating to the 2018-2021 UNFPA Global and Regional Interventions

    Hoda Rashad

    Sherine Shawky  

    Zeinab Khadr




    February 1, 2019

    December 31, 2019


    Project title 

    Leading Researchers 

    Granting Agency

    Amount USD 

    Start date 

    End date 

    Informing and Supporting Policies to Address SRH Inequities 

    Hoda Rashad
    Sherine Shawky
    Zeinab Khadr

    UNFPA/Gov. bodies in Jordan, Morocco, Sudan,Oman


    February 12, 2018

    December 31, 2018

    Policy Research and Outreach for Health Equity in the Eastern Mediterranean Region

    Hoda Rashad
    Sherine Shawky Zeinab Khadr

    WHO/Participants from Arab region 


    January 20, 2017

    November 30, 2017

    Human Rights and Health Equity

    Sherine Shawky

    Hoda Rashad 



    January 20, 2017

    November 30, 2017

    Shaping research for health in the Arab World: A systems and network approach to advance knowledge, inform policy, and promote public health

    Habib Ayeb

    American University of Beirut  


    July 15, 2015

    August 1, 2016

    Assessing the acceptability, feasibility and effectiveness of a strategy for improving the quality and safety of maternal/neonatal health care in the health service contexts of four Middle Eastern countries

    Karima Khalil

    American University of Beirut 


    December 15, 2014

    December 31, 2016