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."
APHA Health Equity Fact Sheets
Creating the Healthiest Nation: Advancing Health Equity (PDF) explains why health inequities hurt public health. The fact sheet outlines key principles for advancing health equity and takes a look at the role of such social determinants of health as housing, education, income and neighborhood conditions.
Creating the Healthiest Nation: Environmental Justice for All (PDF) defines such important terms as 'fair treatment' and 'environmental racism' and gives recommendations for advancing environmental justice. Among the key findings highlighted in the fact sheet: race is the strongest indicator for the placement of toxic facilities in the United States, and communities of color carry a much higher burden of air pollution compared to the overall population.
Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health and Educational Equity (PDF) gives a snapshot of which students are most at risk for not graduating from high school. The fact sheet tells us how to advance health and educational equity through such efforts as offering group therapy, giving students access to washers and dryers and making sure school staff have ongoing opportunities for culturally informed professional development.
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)
Climate Change, Health and Equity: A Guide for Local Health Departments
Health equity now: A state of play on public health and equity (from APHA's Public Health Newswire)
Fumes across the fence-line (from APHA's Public Health Newswire)
APHA's Georges Benjamin on "Closing the Gap on Health Disparities"
Better Health Through Equity: Case Studies in Reframing Public Health Work (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.
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...")
Learn More About Health Equity:
1 What are Health Disparities and Health Equity? We Need to Be Clear