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.
APHA’s Georges Benjamin on “Closing the Gap on Health Disparities”
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.