Health Equity

A health equity movement is underway, in which broad sectors are working together to create solutions to the complex interwoven problems that undermine opportunity.  This movement examines the health equity lens through the root causes or social determinants of health. It requires broadening our definition of “health” to mean one’s overall quality of life, an analysis of socioeconomic factors, including education, income and wealth inequality, and a willingness to address racial and social inequality. These are the factors that impact a person’s overall quality of life and life expectancy. When health is measured not just by a lack of diseases and illness, but by access to opportunities, we see that some populations have greater access to opportunities than others.

When we move toward a society committed to health equity— we work to ensure that everyone, regardless of race, neighborhood, or financial status, has fair and equal access to a healthy community of opportunity. 

Data Disaggregation to Advance a Culture of Health

Racial and ethnic health disparities and inequities can only be eliminated if there is high quality information by which to track immediate problems and underlying social determinants, as well as to guide the design and application of culturally specific medical and public health approaches. Often, health outcomes are disaggregated by broad racial categories such as Black, Latino, Asian, White or Native American. However, the vast diversity of the American population means that people’s actual experience is much more specific.

Through several reviews of the literature by leading experts in 2016 and a set of three convenings in 2017, PolicyLink - working with a range of stakeholders through the Data Disaggregation to Advance a Culture of Health initiative -- will continue to explore how disaggregation of data by race and ethnicity beyond major race and ethnic categories can advance a culture of health. 

Ambassadors for Health Equity

Cultural narratives are powerful, often underutilized tools for promoting policy change. Especially in today’s shifting political landscape — where fear, anger, and xenophobia have taken root in the public discourse — the story of who we are and what we value as a nation has never been more important. 

That is why narrative change has become a central theme in the work of the Ambassadors for Health Equity, a year-long fellowship of 13 national leaders from the private and social sectors who have worked together to foster environments where everyone — regardless of race, neighborhood, or financial status — has the opportunity for health and well-being.

A joint venture of PolicyLink and FSG, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), this fellowship creates a platform for leaders from outside the health field to share ideas and experiences, forge new alliances, and collaborate around promoting health equity in their work.

Building a Movement, Transforming Institutions: A Guide for Public Health Professionals

This web-based-guide was developed to support both veteran and aspiring health equity leaders seeking to transform public health institutions — from local and state health departments to research centers — and embed health equity into their day-to-day practices to solve systemic challenges in their neighborhoods and regions. The guide will also equip public and nonprofit health leaders with practical step-by-step guidance on how to implement effective practices, build coalitions and partnerships, advance policy change, conduct communications, and develop and use health equity indicators. Building a Movement, Transforming Institutions includes existing tools and resources in the field that offer an equity-centered conceptual framework, common language, guiding principles, as well as examples from leading institutions across the country that are engaged in these efforts.