Our Quest for Equity

What is equity?

Everyone should have a fair chance to reach his or her fullest health potential. This is equity.

Equity is a principle that guides our process and is ultimately what we are trying to achieve. As a principle, it guides who we work with, how we work together, and the goals and strategies of the plan. Using equity as a lens means that we are thinking about the resources we have available and the needs of our population. Our goal is not to make sure that all residents have the same resources or the same health outcomes, rather that everyone has the resources, access, and ability to live their healthiest lives.

EQUITY vs EQUALITY

With equality everyone gets the same resource (the same crate) but that does not lead to optimal health (being able to view the ball game). However, equity is achieved by distributing the resources (the crates) in a way that acknowledges personal differences (height) and does lead to optimal health for all (everyone being able to view the game). The inequities that lead to poor health are bad for everyone, not just those who are sick or live in those neighborhoods. Economically, there are major opportunity costs for poor health across the region due to disability and lost years of productive work. We believe that health should not be viewed as something scarce or something that must be rationed or fought over. Instead, we view health as a resource that multiplies the more it is shared. Health is abundant. By improving health for those in need, we will generate better health for everyone who lives and works in Cuyahoga County.

Building the case

We need to do our work differently

To date, HIP-Cuyahoga has engaged in work and dialog to help facilitate a fundamental understanding of how our historical policies and practices have shaped—and continue to shape—our current inequities.

Some Key Questions we ask ourselves and encourage policy makers to ask:

  • What are the historical impacts of policies in our community?
  • How do these policies impact people’s opportunities to be healthy today?
  • What resources are at our disposal?
  • How do we make sure that we advance the collective understanding of these issues across our community?

Improving our knowledge, awareness and understanding of these issues better positions us to change the way we work and address and dismantle the barriers to equity in all policies.

Watch

Hip-Cuyahoga Presents in DC

Martha Halko, HIP-Cuyahoga partnership coordinator, and Greg Brown, partnership co-chair and executive director of PolicyBridge, presented at the Institutes of Medicine’s Community Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States, Meeting 2 on March 7, in Washington, DC. Halko and Brown provided a great overview of the health status of residents in Cuyahoga County and work of HIP-Cuyahoga to address public health needs through a collaborative and inclusive process. The open session meeting’s agenda items included the HIP-Cuyahoga’s Community Improvement Plan, planning and health, transportation and health, environmental justice and health, civil rights law and health and an overview of health disparities.

View the session presentation video below.

Watch

Equity Matters

To learn more about equity, watch the keynote address by Angela Glover Blackwell at the Equity Matters in Collective Impact session from the 2015 Collective Impact Forum convening in New Orleans on May 6, 2015. Blackwell is the founder and president of PolicyLink.