Evidence shows that race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status affect how healthy a person is and how long they live. The conditions people live in have a profound impact on their ability to live healthy lives.
Living with poverty, unemployment, and lack of health care detracts from the health of individuals and whole communities. There is a direct correlation between lack of resources and increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.
The health disparity between affluent and poor Americans is persistent and growing each year.
Health Equity–Why It Matters
Health equity exists when everyone has a fair opportunity to be as healthy as possible. It means having access to safe and secure housing, adequate quantities of nutritious food, and access to medical care.
Groups marginalized or excluded by low income and food and housing insecurity suffer the majority of the chronic diseases in the United States. Building health equity is critical to building a happy and prosperous nation.
(SDOH) Social Determinants Of Health
SDOH are the environmental conditions people live in that affect their health and quality of life. These determinants are examined in the most vulnerable communities nationwide. Interventions addressing needs are crucial to creating fair opportunities. Examples include:
Housing Security– Helping provide access to secure and affordable housing in safe neighborhoods
Food Security– Making foods available that support healthy eating habits
Employment opportunities, job training, transportation
Education– Early childhood education and development, language and literacy, enrollment in higher education
Health Care– Access to health care, primary care, health literacy
Community–Civic participation, social cohesion, creating healthy green spaces
Narrowing The Wealth Gap For Health Equity
Studies show that people with more wealth have better health. Higher incomes can provide healthier living conditions, better housing, increased educational opportunities, and more access to better healthcare.
Low-income and mostly minority communities have been historically and systemically limited from wealth-building opportunities. Residential segregation in impoverished neighborhoods, discriminatory bank lending practices, and discriminatory policing and sentencing practices promote wealth inequality.
The inequalities in the education, housing, banking, and justice system should be addressed at state and national levels. Increasing educational and economic opportunities in impoverished communities is essential to achieving long-term health equity and helping communities reach their maximum health potential.