Health Equity

What is health equity?

Health equity, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), refers to the opportunity for everyone to have a fair chance of attaining their highest level of health.

Striving for health equity requires a continuous focus on:

  • Overcoming social, economic, and other obstacles to healthcare
  • Addressing historical and contemporary injustices
  • Eliminating preventable health disparities

Organizations that help to promote health equity include community organizations, healthcare systems and providers, policymakers, and public health agencies. They accomplish this goal by preventing health disparities by creating programs, policies, and systems based on a health equity framework.

How does health equity improve healthcare?

Health equity provides an even playing field in which everyone is granted the same level of healthcare access, regardless of social, economic, or geographical factors.

These lifestyle factors, called social determinants of health, are conditions of the places where individuals live, work, learn, play, and worship that impact their health risks and outcomes. Social determinants of health are one of the primary factors affecting health equity because they can lead to poorer health and higher disease rates, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cancer, preterm birth, and heart disease.

Acknowledging areas where health equity does not exist is a crucial step in improving healthcare access and services to meet the needs of a particular population.