Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What about health equity?

Health Equity wtih many associated words

Health equity means that everyone has the opportunity to be as healthy as is possible for them. It sounds simple, but is it?

To achieve health equity, our society, collectively and as individuals, must value everyone equally. Since we are in a state of inequity now, we need to initiate ongoing, targeted activities to address those inequities which are avoidable. This means both current inequities and ones in the past that are still impacting us today. Of course, to address inequity in health, we must address it also in healthcare.

COVID and its impact highlighted many public health inequities. Most are systemic issues within the social determinants of health. Racial and ethnic minorities bore a significantly higher burden during the COVID pandemic than did other population segments.

To address healthcare inequities, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) created a COVID-19 Response Health Equity Strategy. This document lists five guiding principles for ways to address health inequity:

  • Expand the evidence-base.

  • Use data-driven approaches.

  • Foster meaningful engagement with community institutions and diverse leaders.

  • Lead culturally responsive outreach.

  • Reduce stigma, including stigma associated with race and ethnicity.

One of the ways the CDC is expanding the evidence-base is by creating the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), using census data to map the location of socially vulnerable populations. These population groups include persons who have special needs, such as those with disabilities, the elderly, those whose English language ability is limited, and those without adequate transportation. These people lack the necessary resilience to survive and thrive in stressful situations such as natural / manmade disasters or disease outbreaks.  

The purpose of the SVI interactive map is to provide data that can assist emergency planners and public health officials at state and local levels to more equitably provide emergency response efforts.

This effort addresses the first two guiding principles set forth by the CDC to address health equity. What can we members of affected communities do to address the remaining three guiding principles?


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