Many projects are designed with equity in mind, but achieving health equity in a community is no easy task. Getting to the root issues of why inequities exist can be complex, time consuming and takes the buy-in and contributions of traditional and non-traditional cross-sector partners. As projects evolve it’s important to continue to look at new developments with a health equity lens.
Achieving health equity is defined by the CDC as every person having the opportunity to attain his or her full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). Social factors may include, but are not limited to: socioeconomic status; educational opportunities; the physical and built environment; and food security.
Often confused, it’s important to note the differences between health disparities and health inequities. Health disparities are population-specific differences in the incidence and prevalence of health conditions and health status. Health inequities are differences in health status between certain population groups that are avoidable, unjust, and unfair.
Over the course of the Plan4Health project, both staff and partners have created and shared resources to help coalitions better understand health equity and how to address and achieve it. The following webinars were created for Plan4Health coalitions and are a great place to start. These webinars address questions around health equity and project implementation, how to continually prioritize health equity in your work, and strategies for identifying community priorities that incorporate a equity lens:
- An Introduction to Health Equity
- Making Health Equity a Priority
- Ensuring Health Equity Through Community Engagement
Beyond Plan4Health, there have been many events that have taken place within the U.S. over the past year that have brought health inequity to the forefront and sparked a national conversation. The tragic events in Charleston, SC, Baltimore, MD, and Ferguson, MO reminded us that racism and other “isms”, whether intentional or unintentional, still exist and can negatively impact the health and well-being of both individuals and communities. In response to these events, APHA led a webinar series, their most successful to date, to further the conversation on how stigma and social factors can impact health. Descriptions, slides and recording of each of these webinars are available online.
In order to achieve health equity it’s important to collaborate and keep it a part of the discussion every step of the way. Be sure to visit the Health Equity Resources page in the Plan4Health Resource Library and stay up-to-date on current health equity news and events by subscribing to CDC’s Health Equity Matters Newsletter.
Images provided by APHA and Plan4Health
Center For Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). NCHHSTP social determinants of health. Retrieved from: