‘Social Determinants of Health’ are non-medical factors, well based and evidenced, intertwining the material circumstances of people, their socio-economic position and the socio-cultural environment as key mediators in their health status. These factors have a great impact on the access to healthcare and long-life prognosis and health trajectories of individuals.

Currently, theWHO distinguishes 5 dimensions of social determinants of health: economic stability, education access and quality, social and community context, housing and basic amenities and the environment and healthcare access and quality.

See WHO’s factsheets on Environmental Health Inequalities

Considering the role of socioeconomic position and built environment in health, housing – from inappropriate, precarious housing and house insecurity to homelessness or rough sleeping – is one of the most important determinants.

In this context, it seems crucial to highlight that people experiencing homelessness are an especially vulnerable group. Sleeping rough or staying in temporary or emergency accommodation affects people greatly, making them a medically high-risk population disproportionately affected by poor health and disability. Furthermore, people experiencing homelessness face multiple barriers to accessing healthcare as well as public health information.

At the same time, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide: 10 million people died in 2020 because of  to cancer, nearly one in six deaths . Cancer mortality is two times higher among people experiencing homelessness, compared to the general adult population in high-income countries.

The situation of deprivation and the lack of access to primary and secondary care and prevention, jointly with the fragmentation and difficulties in navigating the healthcare system, contribute to harshening this gap.

In our blog, we published different posts related to the intersectional aspects related to cancer and, in general, health: masculinities , women affected by homelessness or the very particular situation of migrants .

In February, FEANTSA, jointly with the CANCERLESS consortium sent a letter to the European Commission calling for including “housing” as a crucial determinant of health within the  EU health policies and the EU Cancer Plan.

The complete letter can be consulted here (English and Greek languages)