Health Equity

IPHS Takes Steps Toward Advancing Health Equity

Health equity means enabling a fair, impartial environment where each individual has the opportunity to realize optimal health outcomes. In such a setting, social and economic barriers that prevent poor health outcomes for individuals are eliminated. Access to nutritious food, spaces for physical activity, and quality health education are key factors that impact individual health trajectories.

Health Equity vs. Health Equality: What’s the Difference?

The terms health equity and health equality sound the same yet they each have distinct though similar meanings. Both terms have the goals of improving access to health care and eliminating discrimination. Health equity, however, goes beyond that in recognizing the impact of culture, religion, resources, quality of life, and social factors with regard to health care. In this way, achieving health equity is a complex challenge that spans a range of social, economic and cultural concerns.

Considering Health Equity vs. Health Equality across the Globe

Health disparities, including the gap between income level and life expectancy, exist across various global population groups. In 2020, the World Health Statistics reported that the life expectancy of those living in low-income countries is about 18 years lower than those living in high-income countries. This data underscores the urgent need to address health equity issues to ensure individuals across all populations have the opportunity to live a long and healthy life.

Health disparities in various population groups prevent individuals from attaining their full health potential. Measuring health equity involves assessing differences in incidence, prevalence, mortality, burden of disease and other adverse health conditions in these populations. It also involves assessing considerations such as race, ethnicity, sex, sexual identity, age, disability, socioeconomic status and geographic location.

Some examples of health disparities with wide chasms include:

  • In the European Union, people over the age of 60 made up 94% of COVID-19 deaths.
  • People with disadvantaged backgrounds in Latin America and the Caribbean are 43% more likely to have a disability.
  • Two-thirds of children under the age of 5, who suffer from stunted growth, are from Africa and Southeast Asia.
  • Girls aged 15-19 in Sub-Saharan Africa contract HIV at a rate of three times higher than boys the same age.
  • African American babies are more than twice as likely to die as babies of other races and ethnicities.

Advancing Health Equity in the U.S. Considering Race and Income

In the U.S., there has been a substantial increase in African American, Hispanic and Asian populations, while the non-Hispanic population has faced a progressive decline over the recent years. However, the social and health disparities apply to more than race and ethnicity, but also to geography as well.

For example, in Chicago, those living downtown have a median income of over $103k and an average life expectancy of 83 years. At the same time, residents living in the nearby Washington Park neighborhood have a median income of just over $25k, with an average life expectancy of 69 years.

IPHS Explores How to Measure Health Equity

At IPHS, we focus on health equity using a multi-tiered approach to collaborate with diverse partners to build reciprocal and sustainable community relationships. In doing so, we seek to advance the social justice goals of healthcare systems and academic institutions to address structural racism. Lastly, we strive to inform policymakers on advancing health equity through the synthesis of rigorous and systematic data.

Social factors (such as education, income, and residential location) and health equity are intertwined. Social determinants can positively or negatively influence a population’s health outcomes. When negative factors build up, they can lead to health inequities for an entire population. Properly addressing social factors can go a long way in advancing health equity and opportunity.


What Is Community Health? A Way to Address Health Inequity

Community health is all about advancing health equity and reducing health disparities by addressing social, behavioral, and economic factors in a set population. IPHS recognizes that enabling health equity across all communities and populations requires a substantial commitment. Despite the challenges, advancing health equity remains a goal worthy of pursuit through focused efforts and community partnerships. Progress toward reaching this goal begins by gaining an understanding of community needs and health disparities. Such data can be found by analyzing a range of adverse health indicators and disease burdens.

Authentic impact comes from listening to underserved communities and partnering with key groups, including:

  • Community members and impacted individuals
  • Community and faith-based organizations
  • Employers
  • Healthcare systems and providers
  • Public health agencies
  • Federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments,

Fostering a culture of mutual respect and collaboration enables sustainable solutions that empower communities to thrive.


IPHS’ Commitment to Advancing Health Equity

IPHS employs a health equity-centered framework to foster partnerships with diverse community members and organizations. This framework aims to enable mutual and long-lasting community engagement while collaborating with healthcare systems and academic institutions. By leveraging systematic data analysis, IPHS strives to empower policymakers and practitioners to dismantle structural racism and discrimination in achieving improved health equity outcomes.