Health Equity

Health equity exists when all people have the opportunity to achieve their full health potential, regardless of:

  • The color of their skin.
  • Where they were born.
  • Their level of education.
  • Their gender identity.
  • Their sexual orientation.
  • The religion they practice.
  • The job they have.
  • The language they speak.
  • The neighborhood they live in.
  • Whether or not they have a disability.

However, not everyone in Washington state has this opportunity. Many communities experience health inequities because of their race, culture, identity, or where they live.

The Causes of Inequities

Health inequities exist when there is a difference in health outcomes across different groups of people, and that difference is caused by something:

  • Systematic (carefully planned)
  • Avoidable
  • Unfair and unjust

Example of inequity: Black women are more likely to have low birth weight babies or to experience the loss of a baby. Evidence shows that women of color have faced significant barriers to accessing health care due to where they live, their occupation, zip code, insurance status, and proximity to a health care facility.

In addition, racism and discrimination is a driving force behind these disparities. Indigenous, Hispanic, and Black women have reported significantly higher rates of mistreatment during pregnancy. Across insurance status, income, age, and severity of conditions, people of color are less likely to receive routine medical procedures and experience a lower quality of care.

According to one study on racial disparities in maternal and infant health, the mortality of Black newborns was significantly improved when they were cared for by Black physicians.

Promoting Equity, Undoing Inequity

We all have a role and responsibility in promoting equity and undoing inequity.

We know issues like racism are so systemic that it requires a strong, continuous and coordinated effort to critically look at the policies, systems, practices and personal biases that continue to give advantage to some communities over others.

Promoting equity requires attention to the root causes of health issues and a focus on the communities that are most affected.

When we commit to reexamining our priorities and the way we do our work, we are part of the effort to undo inequity. When we do not make this commitment, our work can actually contribute to widening inequities.

Join in the effort by learning about:

Current Efforts and Resources

More Resources

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