Health Equity

Key concepts of Health Equity:

  • Health extends beyond clinical care and insurance.
  • Health care and insurance are tools in maintaining health, which are important when needed.
  • Health is shaped by public policies and larger socioeconomic conditions.
  • Improving population health demands a collective response. We bring commonalities to this discussion –we all have desires, and hopes, and we all care about the well-being of our loved ones.

See the press release article on the new Rhode Island Commission on Health Advocacy and Equity signed in to law June 30 2011. See the Law  RIGL 23-64.1

Health equity is a new idea for most people

Thinking about health equity requires us to reframe the way in which health differences are usually presented and perceived, which is to attribute health differences to behaviors, genes or nature and inevitability .

Mount Hope Neighborhood Assets Map

Health equity concerns those differences in population health that can be traced to unequal economic and social conditions and are systemic and avoidable – and thus inherently unjust and unfair. It requires widening our lens to bring into view the ways in which jobs, working conditions, education, housing, social inclusion, and even political power influence individual and community health.

We in the US have the greatest inequality of the industrialized countries—and the worst health. The good news is that the conditions that drive health inequities are neither natural nor inevitable but are the consequence of public policies.

We’ve changed public policies in the past and can do so now.

  • We should start by recognizing how other campaigns for social justice represent opportunities to improve our health and well-being.
  • We need to communicate the big picture and take the conversation beyond health care.
  • A health equity framework must work towards the equitable distribution of advantages across society so that everyone has the opportunity to fulfill his or her capabilities.
  • This might seem like a daunting task, but we can readily see examples of how society has shifted in ways that once seemed impossible: the end of slavery, the eight-hour workday, women’s suffrage and civil rights.
  • These accomplishments resulted from many small acts by ordinary citizens who took our democratic ideals seriously and legitimized a new and different way of thinking.

Reframing the discussion

Conventional Question: What populations are vulnerable?
Health Equity Question: What causes the unequal distribution of health-promoting and health-harming conditions?

Conventional: How can we promote healthy behavior?
Health Equity: How can we target dangerous conditions, reorganize land use and create transportation policies to ensure healthy spaces and places?

Conventional: How can individuals protect themselves against health threats?
Health Equity: How can community organizing and alliance building help bring about policies that protect

Comments are closed.