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Health Equity

The Population & Public Health Program works with partners at PHSA and across the province to promote health equity.
Overview

What is health equity?

British Columbians are among the healthiest people in the world, and we have a leading health system that provides top-quality service. However, many of us do not have the same opportunities to be as healthy as others. Health inequities are health differences between population groups that are systematic, avoidable, and unfair.  

Health equity exists when all people can reach their full health potential and are not disadvantaged from attaining it because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, social class, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation or other socially determined circumstance. 

Source: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health; adapted from Dahlgren and Whitehead, 2006 

What factors affect health equity?

Many of the factors that affect our health lie outside the control of the health sector  (e.g., living or working conditions, income, and employment or educational opportunities, etc.). 

Health services are also a determinant of health and therefore the health system has a responsibility to pursue health equity. An equitable health system offers services that are accessible, available, and acceptable to all.

Many of us do not have the same opportunities to be as healthy as others.

British Columbians are among the healthiest people in the world and we have a leading health system that provides top-quality service. However, there are important differences in the health of British Columbians, both among and between groups. For example, in some areas of the province life expectancy is ten years lower than in other areas. 

Improving health equity can benefit every British Columbian, but is particularly important for those who do not have the same opportunities to be as healthy as others.

Our opportunities for better health begin where we live, learn, work, and play.

About 75% of our overall health is determined by social factors like working or living conditions, income, and educational opportunities. These social factors strongly affect the rates of chronic disease and injury, leading to different levels of health and well-being for people of different groups. To promote health and reduce the rates of chronic diseases and injury, PPH works with a variety of partners to improve conditions where people live, learn, work, and play.

The health system plays a key role in reducing inequities.

The factors that affect health strongly impact on the ability of health professionals and the health system to provide good care, even though these factors often lie outside the control of the health sector. For example, many patients and families seeking care experience difficulty accessing health services due to barriers such as transportation, language, or cultural differences. Some people’s living and working conditions or their educational background make it difficult for them to navigate the health care system or comply with recommended treatment. 

The health system has a role to play in improving health equity, and how we plan and deliver our services matters. Our 2011 report, Towards reducing health inequities: A health system approach to chronic disease prevention, identifies several actions the health system can take towards reducing health inequities. For our health system to be equitable, we should strive to ensure that our services are available, accessible, and acceptable to everyone.
Our activities
PPH seeks to promote health equity within the health system by improving the availability, accessibility, and appropriateness of health services in B.C. We also work with a variety of partners to improve conditions where people live, learn, work, and play.

Since 2009, PPH has been continually advancing the health equity agenda at PHSA and across the province through a series of discussion papers, stakeholder engagement processes, and reports. 

Some example ongoing projects include:

Equity indicator development
PPH has facilitated the development of a suite of priority health equity indicators that will inform equity target-setting. This suite of indicators is intended to support stakeholders’ efforts in improving, monitoring, and measuring equity work across BC. 

Framework for promoting health equity at PHSA

PPH is engaging in consultation to inform the development of a comprehensive framework for integrating and unifying health equity within PHSA.

Reports & resources

Official PHSA-PPH resources and reports produced for/by PPH:

This report summarizes 16 of the 52 prioritized health equity indicators for BC. It provides current evidence for some health inequities in early life, adolescence, and adulthood among BC populations across geographic, demographic and socio-economic dimensions.

Released: January 2016
 

Describes the process used to develop a set of priority population-level health equity indicators that may be useful to monitor health equity across B.C.

 Released: October 2014
 
 

Literature scan on appropriate indicators to measure health equity in B.C.'s health system.

Released: March 2013

 

This discussion paper outlines the actions the health system can take to promote health equity and ensure its policies, programs, and services are available, accessible, and acceptable to all. 

In developing the discussion paper, working groups prepared additional resources related to reducing health inequities in three underserved populations of interest: individuals transitioning into and out of the corrections system, immigrants, and refugees.

Released: 2010-2011

 

The BC Centre of Excellence for Women's Health developed two related papers. Taking a second look provides an epidemiological analysis of health inequities with a sex, gender, and diveristy lens. Using the same lens, Worth a second look identifies considerations for policy action to reduce health inequities.

Released: November 2009

 

Reports & resources

Describes the process used to develop a set of priority population-level health equity indicators that may be useful to monitor health equity across B.C.

 Released: October 2014
 
 

Literature scan on appropriate indicators to measure health equity in B.C.'s health system.

Released: March 2013

 

This discussion paper outlines the actions the health system can take to promote health equity and ensure its policies, programs, and services are available, accessible, and acceptable to all. 

In developing the discussion paper, working groups prepared additional resources related to reducing health inequities in three underserved populations of interest: individuals transitioning into and out of the corrections system, immigrants, and refugees.

Released: 2010-2011

 

The BC Centre of Excellence for Women's Health developed two related papers. Taking a second look provides an epidemiological analysis of health inequities with a sex, gender, and diveristy lens. Using the same lens, Worth a second look identifies considerations for policy action to reduce health inequities.

Released: November 2009

 
SOURCE: Health Equity ( )
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