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Attaining Health Equity


Health equity is achieved when every person has 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." Health disparities or inequities, are types of unfair health differences closely linked with social, economic or environmental disadvantages that adversely affect groups of people. (Promoting Health Equity: A Resource to Help Communities Address Social Determinants of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

The social determinants of health are the aspects of the environment in which people are born, grow up, live, work, and age, as well as the systems put in place to deal with illness. These aspects are shaped by a wider set of forces (e.g., economics, social policies, and politics). (Social Determinants of Health Key Concepts , World Health Organization).

CDC's Healthy Communities Program Approach

Achieving health equity, eliminating disparities, and improving the health of all groups is an overarching goal for Healthy People 2020 and a top priority for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC's Healthy Communities Program supports eliminating socioeconomic and racial/ethnic health disparities as an integral part of its chronic disease prevention and health promotion efforts. To improve health on the local, state, and national level, communities are encouraged to identify and address social determinants of health and improve these conditions through environmental changes.

Health Equity and Racial/Ethnic Disparities Resources

CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report — United States, 2011
This report focuses on disparities in selected specific health determinants and outcomes by sex, race/ethnicity, education, income, disability status, and geography.

Promoting Health Equity: A Resource to Help Communities Address Social Determinants of Health (2008)
This workbook is for community-based organizations, public health practitioners, and community health partners interested in developing initiatives to increase health equity by addressing the social determinants of health.

Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health — Resource Library
REACH U.S. is a national program that supports community coalitions that plan, implement, and evaluate strategies to eliminate health disparities among the following groups: African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders. The Web site provides resources and publications on racial and ethnic health disparities.

Eliminating Racial & Ethnic Health Disparities
This Web page from the Office of Minority Health & Health Disparities provides fact sheets on six health-related areas (Infant Mortality, Cancer Screening and Management, Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, HIV Infection/AIDS, and Immunizations) in which racial and ethnic minority groups experience serious disparities in health access and outcomes.

National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) has developed the National Partnership for Action to mobilize and connect individuals and organizations across the country to create a nation free of health disparities, with quality health outcomes for all people.

Tackling Health Inequities Through Public Health Practice: A Handbook for Action (2006)
The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) offers ideas, insight, and examples for local health departments to strengthen their capacity for influencing the root causes of health inequities through a social justice perspective.

Reaching for a Healthier Life: Facts on Socioeconomic Status and Health in the United States (2007)
This publication is funded by the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Socioeconomic Status and Health, and examines how societies are structured like ladders, as well as the importance of economic and social policy to foster better health among individuals and communities.

Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity Through Action on the Social Determinants of Health (2008)
The Commission on Social Determinants of Health together with the World Health Organization published this report to tackle the social determinants of health with the aim of achieving health equity.

CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP)
NCCDPHP provides additional resources on health equity and racial/ethnic disparities.

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