Many public health practitioners increasingly recognize the need to engage with new partners in sectors like urban planning, education, economic and community development, and agriculture. This increase in intersectoral discourse and the popularity of a “health in all policies” approach suggest a growing acknowledgement of the value of health. Still, persistent injustices and inequities in health mean that much work remains to be done.
“Health equity” itself has become a more common phrase in public health reports and plans, but the structural reforms needed to achieve this goal have not been universally recognized. Advancing the interventions needed to achieve health equity—including dismantling and addressing both historic and contemporary forms of inequality—represent the future of public health.
The Health Equity Project uses an approach that recognizes the need to:
- Utilize an intersectional analysis that focuses on policy and systems change that will help redress historical and contemporary systems of oppression and injustice.
- Seek fairness in the social determinants of health, the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, which are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and resources at global, national, and local levels.
- Intervene and focus attention on the structural determinants of health inequities, which shape the social determinants of health and encompass:
- Context, which includes: “…social and political mechanisms that generate, configure, and maintain social hierarchies, including the labour market; the educational system, political institutions and other cultural and societal values”; and,
- Structural mechanisms “…that generate stratification and social class divisions in the society and that define individual socioeconomic position within hierarchies of power, prestige, and access to resources”
- Engage both with the political economy to advance equitable distributions of power, money, and resources.