Creating health equity is a guiding priority and core value of APHA. By health equity, we mean everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health.
Inequities are created when barriers prevent individuals and communities from accessing these conditions and reaching their full potential. Inequities differ from health disparities, which are differences in health status between people related to social or demographic factors such as race, gender, income or geographic region. Health disparities are one way we can measure our progress toward achieving health equity.
How do we achieve health equity? We value all people equally. We optimize the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, learn and age. We work with other sectors to address the factors that influence health, including employment, housing, education, health care, public safety and food access.1 We name racism as a force in determining how these social determinants are distributed.
As APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin, MD, writes in this U.S. News & World Report piece, "Health equity is a goal we can achieve, and it's within our power to do so. We have the tools and the knowledge to make health equity happen, but it's up to all of us to use them."