Health Equity

Health equity means everyone has an equal opportunity to take advantage of resources that will help them live a long, healthy life. It focuses on differences in population health that are related to unequal economic and social conditions in specific locations. These conditions are both systemic and changeable.

Achieving health equity requires creating equal opportunities for health by eliminating health disparities, assuring healthy childhood development, preventing and controlling disease and disability, and working to make the environment healthy. Working toward health equity means reducing differences in health outcomes between different groups in a population.

The Lifecourse Approach

The Lifecourse Approach is a way of looking back across an individual’s (or a group's) life experiences to better understand current patterns of health and disease. It aims to identify the underlying biological and behavioral processes that operate across the lifespan. Some important principles of the Lifecourse Approach include:

  • Today’s experiences influence tomorrow’s health.
  • The broader community environment strongly affects health.
  • There are critical periods of growth and development (not just in early infancy, but also during childhood and adolescence) when environmental exposures can do more damage to long-term health than they would at other times in a person’s life.

Social and Environmental Determinants of Health

Health is greatly influenced by the social and physical environments in which people live. These environments can create differences in the health statuses of groups of people. Examples of social determinants of health include levels of unemployment, the availability of public transportation in a community, the availability of healthy food, and the quality of reduction that people receive. The social determinants of health are different from individual factors, such as behavioral factors or genetics, which also affect health.

What We Do

The Division of Community, Family Health, and Equity works to eliminate health disparities by assuring healthy child development and preventing and controlling disease and disability. We plan, develop, and evaluate programs and systems, which are comprehensive, community-based, culturally competent, coordinated and effective.