The Republic of Slovenia is a parliamentary democratic republic with 2 million people. Slovenia joined the European Union and NATO in 2004, and the Eurozone in 2007. Slovenia has a strong economy and a stable democracy, and the country scores relatively high on equality parameters. Slovenia is parted into 211 municipalities with local autonomy, and 62 administrative districts. The districts function as sub-units of government administration. Regional differences in wealth are pronounced with large gaps between the east and the west.
The first initiative has taken place in 2000, when regional development agenda aimed at reducing regional disparities and included health. Also, financial measures were put forward by the Ministry of Health for innovative regional projects which aimed to tackle health inequalities. Two main policies, the “Strategy to Tackle Health Inequalities” and the “Health Promotion Strategy and Action Plan for Tackling Health Inequalities in Pomurje” have been considered as pilot initiatives. From 2005 onwards, when the debate on health inequalities strengthen also at international level, politicians become aware of the broader social determinants concept and this moved the debate at national level. However, only since 2009, social issues started to be more frequently connected to health.
The Slovenia Ministry of Health use Health Impact Assessment and cross-sectoral policy development as tools to address health inequalities. These efforts also take on a cross-governmental character, as a broad range of governmental policies has recognized the importance of social determinants of health inequalities. These include the labor market and fair wage policy, the social protection policy, the social inclusion policy, the pension policy, the balanced regional development policy, the fiscal expenditure policy and the housing policy. However, qualitative research and data is currently missing that indicates what approaches are working and why and also effective cross-sectoral mechanisms that would foster better cross-sectoral action are still lacking.
There are currently two important developments that may put health inequalities higher on the political agenda, and make it easier for stakeholders to advocate for the issue. Firstly a recent report on health inequalities in Slovenia, which for the first time linked health and access indicators to social economic status and thus took the broader determinants into account. Secondly, a new National Development Plan (2012 – 2020) is on the way, in which there will be a chapter devoted to health equity in Slovenia.
An overview of policy responses addressing health inequalities in can be found in our Policy Database.