Global Commission Launches Roadmap for Multisectoral and Evidence-based Approach to Improve Population Health

September 21, 2021

Commission on Health Determinants, Data, and Decision-making releases a report detailing principles and actionable recommendations to leverage data on the social determinants of health in decision-making and implement policies that advance health equity. 

September 21 – The Rockefeller Foundation-Boston University Commission on Health Determinants, Data, and  Decision-Making (3-D Commission) has released its report, which explores the key social and economic drivers that influence health outcomes and illustrates how data on the social determinants of health (SDoH) can be integrated into decision-making processes to improve population health. The 3-D Commission report was released alongside the 76th United Nations General Assembly on September 21, 2021. 

The report’s main findings center on the need for policymakers to consider the full spectrum of SDoH; the challenges and opportunities related to generating and using data on SDoH; and the need to use those data more systematically to inform policies and practices that affect health. To support the translation of these findings into action, the 3-D Commission lays out a series of principles and recommendations for policymakers,  practitioners, and scholars who are invested in promoting the health of populations. 

“Our findings underscore the importance of a whole-of-society approach to improving the health of populations and addressing the root causes of health inequities,” says Dr. Sandro Galea, 3-D Commission Chair and Dean and Robert A. Knox Professor, Boston University of Public Health. “We need to ensure that all stakeholders– from policymakers to local community organizations to the private sector – have a common understanding of  what drives health, coupled with the tools necessary to promote more effective cross-sector collaboration and  policymaking to improve health outcomes for individuals and communities.” 

Recognizing that moving from principles to action is the ultimate objective, the 3-D Commission argues that the report’s principles and recommendations are implementable if built on a foundation of three interconnected,  pragmatic areas of focus: political will, technical capacity, and community engagement. Each of these areas is critical to supporting the development of evidence-driven policies and programs that build and maintain trust and improve population health sustainably and equitably. The achievement of a healthier world aligned with the values that underpin the 3-D Commission’s principles and recommendations –health equity, accountability, understanding local context and honoring community experiences, an expansive understanding of data, and a  shared culture of data-informed decision-making – will require a steadfast commitment on the part of all actors, supported by forward-looking leadership and persistent grassroots advocacy. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for a cross-sector, evidence-driven approach to addressing health inequities and improving the health of communities in countries around the world,” says Dr.  Naveen Rao, Senior Vice President & Senior Advisor to the President, Health Initiative, The Rockefeller  Foundation. “The 3-D Commission report is an important contribution to these efforts. It presents a transdisciplinary, actionable agenda and advocates for advances in data science and public health research  and practice to support improved decision-making for health.” 

Head of Urbanization & Wellbeing at the African Population and Health Research Center Dr. Blessing Mberu was one of the commissioners and the Co-chair of the Determinants Working Group. The African Population and Health Research Center is co-hosting a regional launch event for Africa on Friday 1 October to discuss the report in the context of Africa.

The meeting will deliberate what the governments, academic institutions, and the private sector can do to advance the health of the population by the effective use of data on social determinants in the health decision-making process. 

The 3-D Commission will also be hosting a series of public, virtual launch events with regional partners in the coming weeks. We welcome you to register here to attend. 


About the Boston University School of Public Health 

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, the mission of Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) is to improve the health of local, national, and international populations, particularly the disadvantaged,  underserved, and vulnerable, through excellence and innovation in education, research, and service. Over  1,000 students, 350 faculty, and 200 staff come to BUSPH to study and work. The community is driven by its shared values of collaboration and engagement, innovation and inclusivity, and justice and equity, as well as its desire to make impactful, lasting change in the world. 

About Rockefeller Foundation 

The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation to enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish. We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal. Our focus is on scaling renewable energy for all, stimulating economic mobility, and ensuring equitable access to healthy and nutritious food. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn. 


The African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) is the continent’s premier research institution and think tank, exploring questions of population health and wellbeing. Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, with a regional office in Dakar, Senegal, the Center seeks to drive positive change with evidence led by a growing cadre of research leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa. For more information visit and follow us on Twitter @aphrc.

Contact: Dr. Salma Abdalla, Lead Project Director  

Phone: 617.358.3407