The issue of the reciprocal relationship between health and development has recently taken on greater importance in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), given the persistence of extreme poverty and the political and social difficulties due to macroeconomic imbalances and crises of governance. This piece reviews concepts of sustainable human development, social determinants of health in general and of health inequities in particular (gender, ethnic group, income level), and the relationship between health and economic growth in the medium term and the long term. An analysis is made of how persistent poverty in countries of LAC relates to disparities in health conditions, access to health services, and health care financing, as well as to such health determinants as nutrition and environmental sanitation. Health inequities most strongly affect the most excluded and vulnerable sectors of the population. In the face of this situation, the author stresses that putting a priority on health inequities is vital to safeguarding the governability and the social and political stability of countries in LAC in the next decade.