My name is Meenoo Mishra and I am the owner of Mishra Consulting, a public health writing and communications firm based in northern Virginia. For the past six years I have worked on promoting health equity and addressing health disparities within state health agencies. State health agencies are an important part of the larger public health infrastructure and it is critical that we include them in national health equity efforts. As we all know, addressing the social determinants of health is essential in improving health equity outcomes. In addition to grant-funded programs, state public health agencies have many opportunities to integrate social determinants of health and health equity outcomes into their work. Other agency-wide initiatives such as accreditation, state health improvement plans, community health needs assessments, health impact assessments, and state health in all policies task forces can all be used to further health equity goals. This post will offer some tools for integrating social determinants of health and health equity within all areas of public health practice.
Hot Tip: Include health equity objectives and strategies in your organization’s strategic plans and priorities. Go beyond program-specific goals and keep health equity objectives central to your organization’s daily work. For example, ensure that leadership in your organization understands the impacts of their work on health equity.
Rad Resource: Check out the Health Equity Review Planning Tool from the Washington State Department of Health. This tool will help you assess the potential impact of your proposals and programs on health equity.
Hot Tip: Make health equity a requirement in your organization’s grants and contract processes. Consider collaborating with other agencies to address outcomes that go beyond health, such as housing, education, environmental quality, and employment.
Rad Resource: Use tools such as County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, America’s Health Rankings, and GIS to identify inequities in communities. Supplement the quantitative data with qualitative methods (interviews and focus groups) to include community-identified health perspectives and priorities.
Rad Resource: Community Commons has a Vulnerable Population Footprint tool that you can use to create maps that identify community areas with specific levels of educational attainment and poverty. This can help you determine where you need to focus the most resources.
Cool Trick: Work on improving the social determinants of health within your communities by setting up a Health in All Policies Task Force. This Task Force can oversee and increase your organization’s opportunities for collaborating with many agencies and departments, not just health services and public health.
Rad Resource: Check out the Equitable Development Toolkit from PolicyLink. This toolkit offers 27 tools to reverse patterns of segregation and disinvestment, support healthy neighborhoods, and promote equitable revitalization by tool or issue area.
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