Health Equity

In the past couple of posts, we’ve discussed the topics of the “Social Determinants of Health” and “Equity versus Equality.”

The underlying message of the “Social Determinants of Health” is that the conditions in which people live have a more significant impact on their overall state of health than their genetics.  Access to quality food, education, transportation, and living conditions all play a critical part in our health.

The concept of “Equity versus Equality” challenges the idea that giving “equal” treatment to every individual is adequate.  Instead, equitable treatment accounts for individual/community needs and unique sets of circumstances.

This month, we’re taking what we’ve learned from each of the past two advocacy topics (the Social Determinants of Health and Equity versus Equality) as we look at Health Equity.

This short video produced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation does a great job of illustrating what Health Equity is and provides examples of initiatives that have tackled complex issues by providing fair, equitable solutions. “When everyone is healthy, everyone benefits.”


This matters because…

Understanding Health Equity is a vital piece in moving the needle in health outcomes.  If we understand the relationship between “equity” and the Social determinants of Health (access to quality food, affordable housing, education, transportation, stable income, and stable relationships), we are more likely to create sustainable change.

Equity vs Equality

This image has become commonly used in illustrating the difference between equity and equality.  The basic message is that equality is providing the same solutions to overcoming obstacles without full consideration of an individual’s (or group’s) unique circumstances.  In order to provide equitable solutions, each individual (or group) must be provided the necessary means based on their unique set of circumstances.

This article published by the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University provides a deeper look at this topic.  What’s the difference between Equity and Equality?

As we consider our community, let’s consider what equity looks like.  And, if we see the opportunity, perhaps we can take it a step further and tear the fences down.


This matters because…

We must understand the difference between equality and equity if we are to solve root problems. When we provide individuals (and groups) the access and resources they need according to their own, unique set of circumstances (Equity), we’re providing them with the greatest opportunity to succeed.