Health Equity

Creating health equity is a guiding priority and core value of APHA. By health equity, we mean everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health.

Inequities are created when barriers prevent individuals and communities from accessing these conditions and reaching their full potential. Inequities differ from health disparities, which are differences in health status between people related to social or demographic factors such as race, gender, income or geographic region. Health disparities are one way we can measure our progress toward achieving health equity.

How do we achieve health equity? We value all people equally. We optimize the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, learn and age. We work with other sectors to address the factors that influence health, including employment, housing, education, health care, public safety and food access.1  We name racism as a force in determining how these social determinants are distributed.

As APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, writes in this U.S. News & World Report piece, "Health equity is a goal we can achieve, and it's within our power to do so. We have the tools and the knowledge to make health equity happen, but it's up to all of us to use them."

From The Nation's Health

Special Section: Addressing health equity through state, regional partnerships

Climate change, health equity 'inextricably linked'

Complete streets promoting health equity in communities: Supporting transportation for all users

Health departments placing stronger emphasis on equity

More APHA Resources

All Health is Connected: Can Leveraging Women's Health Care Help Narrow Gaps in Black Men's Health? (APHA issue brief)

Fumes across the fence-line (from APHA's Public Health Newswire)

APHA's Georges Benjamin on "Closing the Gap on Health Disparities"

About our Health Equity Report:

Better Health Through Equity report cover


Better Health Through Equity: Case Studies in Reframing Public Health Work (2015) (PDF) highlights state and local efforts from health agencies and one Tribal Nation across Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin to address the root causes of health inequities. Those root causes include racism and unequal distribution and access to resources such as a living wage, health care and quality education and housing. The report features the stories of the health agencies as they shifted their thinking and their work from focusing on health disparities to advancing health equity.



Read APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin's thoughts on health equity ("It is simply impossible to talk about the roles that racism and discrimination play in the health of our communities without taking a hard look inward...")

Watch Benjamin in this California Endowment video "With Health and Justice for All...

Partner Resources:

Learn More About Health Equity:

Fact sheets on Health Equity

thumbnail of health equity fact sheet showing smiling kids above paragraphs

New Resource

Climate Change, Health and Equity: A Guide for Local Health Departments

All Health is Connected

smiling mother and father in doctor's office

Focusing on Social Determinants

Lisa Wen

Health Equity Starts With You

Health Equity and Social Justice