How do we achieve health equity?

Before I discuss the effort of achieving health equity, I want to point out the distinction between equity and equality. I think the image above from the Interaction Institute for Social Change by Angus Maguire perfectly illustrates the difference of sameness versus fairness.

It is easier to understand health equity when you have knowledge of health inequities. Health inequities are differences in health that are avoidable, unfair, and unjust. Groups that commonly experience health inequities, such as poor or marginalized persons, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+, and women have a common characteristic of a lack of political, social or economic power.

Health equity is defined by Healthy People 2020 as the “attainment of the highest level of health for all people.” Why does achieving this matter? It matters because everyone deserves a fair chance to lead a healthy life. The opportunity to lead a healthy life should not be abandoned because of who they are or their socio-economic opportunities.

I found the Health Equity Institute, American Public Health Association and World Health Organization have shared exceptionally constructive and informative information on work to achieve health equity. I have consolidated their ideas here:

  • Value all people equally
  • Focus on the root cause of health inequities and health disparities
  • Particular attention to groups that have experienced major obstacles to health associated with socio-economic disadvantages and historical and contemporary injustices
  • Promotion of equal opportunities for all people to be healthy
  • We optimize the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, learn and age
  • Distribution of socio-economic resources needed to be healthy in a manner that progressively reduces health disparities and improves health for all
  • Continuous efforts to maintain a desired state of equity after avoidable health inequities and health disparities are eliminated
  • Work with other sectors to address the factors that influence health
  • Name racism as a force in determining how social determinants are distributed
  • Empower groups in question through systematic changes or economic and social relationships

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Finally, the image above from the King County Determinants of Equity Baseline Project made me realize the importance of interdisciplinary work. Public health officials cannot achieve health equity alone. Incorporating public safety officers, educators, government officials, or healthcare providers is a small example of who we must also get involved to work towards attaining equitable populations.

Here are a few links to some great health equity resources:

It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act. -Dalai Lama

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. -Martin Luther King Jr.


3 thoughts on “How do we achieve health equity?”

  1. Wow! I love the layout of your blog, it’s beautiful and very easy to navigate. I think you did a great job by starting your blog postings with equity versus equality. I like how your using information from lecture in the blog posts. You explain it all very well. Finally, I really like the picture of the people looking over the fence, it really puts things in perspective. Also, great and applicable quotes.


  2. I agree with Tess – I really love the layout of your website! It’s super easy to navigate and is organized really well. I also really like this first blog post you wrote about regarding achieving health equity. It is definitely an important and interesting topic to cover. I feel like people forget the difference between health equity and health equality – including myself. The terms are so similar, so it’s important to differentiate the two. The image you provided at the very top of your blog post is a really good summary of the difference between the two terms also. As a public health major, it’s important to recognize that we need to have equality by valuing all people equally (like you stated), but it is also important to ensure that there is equity –by drawing attention to those who, “have experienced major obstacles to health associated with socio-economic disadvantages and historical and contemporary injustices.” These are people who need the extra help the most.

  3. Such a good topic that need to be addressed in public health. I like the way you layed out the overall blog post. Having the image to clarify how equality and equity differ from one another was such a good idea to place before getting into the wording of the blog. I also think that starting out to define what the meaning of both equality and equity was a good idea for those readers that would like to know the difference. Using the Healthy people 2020 definition and incorporating that everyone deserves a fair chance to lead a healthy life really lets the reader know that, that’s something you feel strongly about. The addition to incorporate everyone by giving a bullet list of what are some ways in which we can fix the health equity in our society. I also thought that the image of the tree was perfectly placed after that list because it shows how there is so much that needs to happen before any results are seen which in the case of the picture the tree is growing. Last i like how your incorporated links to learn more about health equity. Overall good blog post with interesting closing quotes by Dalai Lama and MLK Jr.

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