Health Equity and Human Rights
What is health equity? It is a measure of how access to the social determinants of health is equally distributed among all groups. These factors include wealth, power, prestige, and access to health services. Health equity is an important goal for human rights and the global community. Here are some ways health equity can be achieved:
Social determinants of health
Health inequities are a reflection of unjust living conditions, unequal access to resources, and unequal participation in society. Taking action to reduce these inequities requires action in two main areas: the health system and the social determinants of health. While the distinction between these two areas can vary by country, the WHO Commission emphasized that action must be taken to address both. The report will also outline the key goals and measures for the next decade.
In addition to health care, public health organizations can address social determinants of health. One important goal of the NPS is to achieve increased health equity for all Americans through four strategic directions: ensuring clean air, building healthy communities, integrating community preventative services, and empowering individuals to make healthy choices. Health care workers can take a leadership role in addressing social determinants of health by taking action and empowering communities.
Achieving this goal is essential in ensuring that every person enjoys good health. However, these efforts often fall short of achieving health equity. While there is a growing recognition of the importance of health care workers, many of the social determinants of health are largely inequitable, and often require a new approach. The social determinants of the health framework highlight the underlying political, social, and economic conditions that contribute to disparities in health.
Human rights and health equity are complementary and interconnected when applied to health. While there are some disagreements about the appropriateness of special protection from discrimination, these concepts are powerful tools for strengthening community engagement. Here are three ways human rights and health equity can work together. First, human rights are universal, and everyone is entitled to certain protections. Second, human rights are legally binding. The United States, for example, has ratified the ICESCR, which gives every individual the right to health care.
The principle of nondiscrimination contributes to the conceptualization, measurement, and analysis of health equity. Moreover, relevant agreements on nondiscrimination provide justification for paying special attention to the rights of vulnerable groups. This principle is particularly important when considering health equity, as the social determinants of health have the potential to contribute to inequalities. For example, if a group is disadvantaged because of age, disability, or nationality, it is unlikely to receive the same level of health care as a person with the same socioeconomic status.
Second, human rights principles strengthen the conceptual foundation for health equity. For example, they clarify who is entitled to what health care and define what constitutes discrimination. Health equity can make substantial contributions to human rights, which include improving the understanding of social conditions and empirical evidence on the role of health in achieving a society’s goal. And finally, health equity can operationalize the right to health. But how can health equity work together to achieve these goals?
Measures of health equity
Health equity is a conceptual construct that attempts to measure the disparities in health status based on socio-economic and demographic factors. These factors, such as race, ethnicity, or income, are often neglected when discussing health disparities, and there is a need to include them when assessing the impact of social policies on health. Several measures of health equity are available, and we will consider them here. These measures include the following:
The HEMF framework is complex and comprises many aspects. These factors include socioeconomic context, health policies, and biological factors. In addition, it examines health-related behavior, stress, healthcare utilization, and cultural differences. This framework provides guidance for the design of research and statistical methods. It can also be applied to surveillance systems. The HEMF framework also provides a conceptual framework for developing health equity measurement and policy. With its extensive list of criteria, it is crucial to understand the disparity in health.
The goal of health equity is to improve health insurance coverage and access to affordable and high-quality care for all Americans. The National Center for Health Equity (NCDPHP) has produced several reports highlighting progress toward the goal of reducing health disparities and improving health outcomes for all people. One report highlights the results of a multi-year project to improve health care equity in Minnesota. It also details the benefits of partnering with local communities and health plans to improve health outcomes for their members and reduce costs for the system.
The Importance of Health Equity
The importance of health equity cannot be stressed enough. Many health-related issues affect people in the same way, regardless of where they live. In this article, we will review health-related issues, discuss Social determinants of health, and identify allies. Then, we will cover Top leadership, Community health needs assessment, and Identifying allies. Hopefully, this information will give you an idea of what to do next. Health-related issues can be daunting, but with a bit of planning and commitment, you will be able to overcome them.
Social determinants of health
Several recent studies have emphasized the importance of social determinants of health, or the conditions that influence health. Besides genetics, these social factors are also important, such as housing, education, and access to nutritious foods. Research has shown that socioeconomic factors influence health outcomes up to two and a half times as much as quality medical care. This is why addressing social determinants of health is so critical to improving health outcomes.
While it is important to address all of these factors, the effects of social determinants on health are cumulative, affecting people of different racial and ethnic groups. For instance, children of low-income and illiterate parents are more likely to live in substandard housing and are less likely to access recreational facilities. Moreover, environmental factors are linked to poor health and can impact future generations. This makes addressing the social determinants of health crucial for improving overall health and reducing health disparities.
Community health needs assessment
A community health needs assessment is a valuable tool to support the development of a public health improvement plan. This type of assessment helps identify the most pressing health issues in a community and provides resources for the implementation of the new CHIP program. In determining community health needs, a health improvement plan includes a community survey. In the past, community health assessments were performed in partnership with local hospital-based CHNAs, which are required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, these assessments were often limited to quantitative surveys and failed to adequately identify the health needs and interests of vulnerable populations within communities. Therefore, a coalition of community members developed a more comprehensive assessment tool.
The community health needs assessment can identify unmet local health needs. By focusing on these issues, communities can prioritize community-wide interventions and prioritize local programs. Community health needs assessments can also identify gaps in resources or areas of health disparity and inform prioritization. This section also includes discussions of the importance of health equity in systems, policy, and environmental strategies, as well as a set of questions to consider.
To create a culture that values health equity, top leadership should have a vision and strategy for health equity. It should know the specific needs of minority communities. For example, a CEO should be knowledgeable about the health disparities in their community and the specific issues that must be addressed to address them. The chief equity officer should have a seat at the executive table and report to the CEO. This position will have a unique role in implementing health equity strategies within an organization.
Leaders who want to create a culture of health equity must understand the science of health disparities. To succeed, they must combine a strong foundation of social strategy with abundant political will and supreme interpersonal skills. The 2008 National Institutes of Health Summit on Health Disparities provided a framework to develop these characteristics and strategies. Those with these characteristics will likely have a greater impact than leaders without the vision. If they are unable to bring these attributes to bear, they must focus on creating the conditions that will promote health equity for all.
One of the most difficult aspects of achieving health equity is identifying those who support your mission. Health care organizations play an essential role in addressing health equity, both as employers and as social safety nets in communities. Leaders from health care organizations are recognizing the importance of this issue and searching for new ways to address systemic racism and improve health equity. In fact, half of the CEOs surveyed stated that achieving health equity was one of their top three organizational priorities by 2021. Moreover, every interview I conducted revealed that health equity was a priority for the leadership.
One executive shared how she was identifying allies within her organization. This executive recognized health equity as an issue years ago. She cites data and compelling stories. She said she identified operations leaders as her “ambassadors.” She noted that these executives can help build relationships within her organization and ensure that her efforts gain wider support. The executive leader discussed strategies to use when presenting to executives. While some executives may not be willing to hear the presentation of the social justice campaign, others will need convincing.