6 Pro-Tips from Health Equity Champions

Image by The California Endowment’s #Health4All Campaign
  • Government has played a key role in creating inequities.
  • Half of health is determined by social, economic and environmental conditions. Those conditions are usually governed by other agencies and decision-making bodies.
  • Public health can’t make these changes alone.

1. “Sometimes [health equity] work can start with finding someone who does similar work to you in another department and having coffee with them”

— Jordan Bingham, Public Health Madison/Dane County (Wisconsin)

2. “Doing health equity work is about changing the way we do our work, not just adding new work.”

— Dr. Linda Rae Murray, former Cook County Health Officer and former APHA president

  • Use a health equity lens for every funding application, initiative and evaluation
  • Invest in equity-focused assessments, trainings and partnerships
  • Prioritize analysis of data that’s useful for the community
  • Include questions about social determinants of health and equity on existing surveys and client forms
  • Invite new stakeholders and community members to community health assessment and planning work
  • Speak up in staff and community meetings about equity, power and oppression

3. “It’s important to repeat again and again what drives inequities — with staff, with elected officials, with the public — to help change the narrative”

— Sandi Galvez, Alameda County Public Health Department

4. “We have to be explicit about racism because racial inequities persist in every system and in every jurisdiction, and they have historically been perpetuated by government.”

— Jonathan Heller, Human Impact Partners

5. “It’s practically malpractice NOT to work with community organizers.”

— Dr. Rex Archer, Kansas City, Missouri, Health Department

  • Recognize community organizers won’t necessarily see public health people as natural allies, but to stay persistent
  • Provide in-kind support to organizers, e.g. meeting space, data to help push campaigns, facilitation or evaluation support — to build trusting relationships
  • Recognize that a lot of organizing work happens outside a 9–5 work day, and therefore adjusting their ideas around when “the work” happens — for example, taking a vacation day to participate in a march or other community mobilization
  • Self disclose your own barriers and your own agency’s role in creating and perpetuating inequities
  • Work with a shared purpose, even though approaches between health departments and community organizers may be different
  • Recognize that we need to organize people, resources and narrative to build power for change

6. “We need to be more courageous and be clear about the consequences of inaction”

— Lili Farhang, Human Impact Partners

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Human Impact Partners

Human Impact Partners

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Bringing the power of public health to campaigns and movements for a just society