DISPARITY & EQUITY DEFINED
Healthy People 2020, a framework of national public health goals from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, defines ‘health disparity’ as a “particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage,” while ‘health equity’ is the “attainment of the highest level of health for all people.”
Evolving understanding of the social determinants of health confirms that where people live, work, learn and play has an outsized impact on health compared to factors like genetics, individual behaviors and even access to healthcare. The bottom line is that place matters: in the United States, zip codes determine how long you live.
THE ROLE OF RACISM
Because many of today’s health disparities are rooted in historical patterns of discrimination and exclusion—primarily targeting the Black community, and also impacting other ethnic minorities—making any meaningful progress toward advancing health equity must begin by acknowledging and understanding the role of discrimination and structural racism.