DRA The Disparity Reducing Advances (DRA) Project

A DRA Project “State of the Health Equity Movement” Memo 09-01

Prepared by Jerusha Haasenritter and Stella Han, Institute for Alternative Futures
September 17, 2009

“The growth of the Health Equity Movement is reflected by a rising number of government entities (local, state, federal) and organizations explicitly recommending and pursuing health equity. This memo compiles the recommendations for 28 of these efforts and provides a table to illustrate the recommendations from nine of these.”

The introduction of this memo can be found below. To read the report in its entirety, you can download it here:

Introduction

In 2005 Michael Marmot stated, “If you catch the metro train in downtown Washington, D.C., to suburbs in Maryland, life expectancy is 57 years at beginning of the journey. At the end of the journey, it is 77 years. This means that there is 20‐year life expectancy in the nation’s capital, between the poor and predominantly African American people who live downtown, and the richer and predominantly non‐African American people who live in the suburbs … The social determinants of these two individual’s lives are different, and we must acknowledge this and think of poverty in a different way. It is about opportunities in life and control over one’s life, in addition to social conditions that shape the physical environment one lives in1.” The differences in these two individual’s lives reflect health inequities as they exist in the United States. However, a growing movement towards acknowledging and taking steps to reduce these inequities exists and is referred to as the health equity movement. This movement focuses on prevention and addressing the social determinants of health which include “income and social status (income inequality and social class), social support networks (social exclusion and social isolation), education, employment and working conditions (unemployment), physical environments (food and transportation), social environments, community norms, healthy child development, health services, and gender and culture2.” This movement advocates for health reform, not just health care reform.

Currently, health equity advocates are moving beyond solely identifying the inequities, to focus on what actions will create health equity. The following document compiles 28 reports (including memos and briefs) that serve as indicators of the health equity movement and its growth. All of these reports offer recommendations, strategies, and/or priorities for health equity, specific to the subject area of the report. The reports presents an examination of a variety of recommendations, representing different subject areas, and delivering a diverse focus.

The purpose of this document is to disseminate information by presenting varying strategies and recommendations for those who are interested to get a better idea of possible means to bring about an end result. This document has two components:

  1. An illustrative chart of ten reports, giving an overview of certain themed recommendations; and
  2. A list of 28 significant reports regarding health disparities, health equity, prevention, and the social determinants of health. The list details recommendations, priorities, and/or strategies, with links to each report included.

The reports included illustrate the growing activity in the health equity field. We acknowledge there are others and will gather these for subsequent inclusion in DRA Project reviews of activity. In considering the range of policies recommended, the advice from the Multnomah County Health Initiative (2009) is relevant to share. The effort recognized three emergent themes:

  1. There is no single “magic bullet” policy or short list of policies that will eliminate the inequities that result in health disparities, solutions need to come from the coordinated effort of policy makers, bureaucrats and community members,
  2. local efforts at eliminating inequities should be driven by local data on existing health disparities, and
  3. local governments should look at their own policies that perpetuate inequities.

If you would like to request that any information be edited or added, or have other examples please email Jerusha Haasenritter at jhaasenritter@altfutures.com. This document is part of a larger DRA Project effort to identify “The State of the Health Equity Movement”. For more information, please email jhaasenritter@altfutures.com. To find out more about the DRA Project, please visit http://www.altfutures.com/draproject/ .

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This entry was posted on Thursday, September 24th, 2009 at 8:44 am and is filed under Resources. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.