Health equity means that every individual has the opportunity to attain optimal health and well-being. To achieve health equity, our country must work to address pervasive disparities in both access and outcomes. Our experience has shown us that achieving health equity requires in-depth research to identify problems and solutions, responsive policies to population needs and smart investments in communities. In doing so, we must address both the underlying socio-economic factors and existing policies that drive health care disparities.
Data and research are the underpinning of any effort to achieve health equity. We cannot address disparities without first understanding what they are and who they impact, followed by understanding what interventions and changes are needed to adequately and effectively uplift affected populations. Since, and before, the groundbreaking 1985 Heckler Report, which failed to accurately reflect the realities of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, advocates and academics have worked for better reporting. We work to advocate for research, both by government and private actors, that accounts for disaggregated data, includes the voices of relevant communities and furthers our understanding of how health equity can be achieved.
ADDRESSING POLICY SHORTCOMINGS
Public policy can both exacerbate and minimize health disparities. We believe that policymakers at all levels of government must act to address previous injustices and prevent future disparities. Policy interventions to achieve health equity range from ensuring communities of color have access to safe, livable communities to closing nationwide gaps in cancer outcomes, maternal mortality and diabetes prevention.
SMART COMMUNITY INVESTMENTS
We believe empowered communities are best positioned to determined what is needed for achieving their own health equity. Decision-making and research must include input and leadership from affected communities. Funding local efforts of community based organizations, who know best the needs of their neighborhoods, are often the most effective ways to address disparities. And while national problems often require national solutions, we must account for the ways those solutions will impact diverse communities.