What is health equity?
Health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to “attain his or her full health potential” and no one is “disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.” Health inequities are reflected in differences in length of life; quality of life; rates of disease, disability, and death; severity of disease; and access to treatment. (Source: CDC - Health Equity)
Equity is the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically or by other dimensions of inequality (e.g. sex, gender, ethnicity, disability, or sexual orientation). Health is a fundamental human right. Health equity is achieved when everyone can attain their full potential for health and well-being.
Health and health equity are determined by the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, play, and age, as well as biological determinants. Structural determinants (political, legal, and economic) with social norms and institutional processes shape the distribution of power and resources determined by the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, play, and age.
The Health Equity Branch exists to expand and promote equitable access to opportunities and resources that impact an individual’s or community’s health and right to be free from communicable diseases and their health effects.
What we are up to:
The Community Action and Engagement Unit works to ensure that all Coloradans have access to adequate health care services and resources to improve health and well-being. The program consists of several lines of work focused around establishing a regional support network for local communities, primarily addressing the impacts of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases on community health. The regional support network will help community-based and community-serving groups access services, support, and funding, as well as other resources. This network will help support programs that aim to advance health equity and address social determinants of health as they relate to COVID-19 health disparities among populations at higher risk and that are underserved. The Community Action and Engagement Unit is composed of two Regional Outreach teams and one Disproportionately Affected Populations Liaison team, charged with community outreach and engagement to close health equity gaps among rural and non-rural communities across Colorado.
Equity Resource Specialists work to identify and support community-based organizations, health care entities, and local public health agencies access opportunities and resources that support and promote health equity. Through intentional partnerships, Equity Resource Specialists work alongside partners to set strategic priorities, identify and implement effective strategies, and access funding and other resources to support programs that aim to advance health equity and address social determinants of health as they relate to COVID-19.
We Coloradoans spend most of our day at work, for much of our lives. The environments in which we work and the type of work we do can have a major impact on our health. Inequities exist in the workplace/work environment across different industries and for those who work in certain occupations, which can contribute to inequities in health. Our Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene team exists to support working populations in Colorado and maintain healthy, safe work environments. There are several lines of work in our Occupational Health and Industrial Hygiene Unit, including:
- Workplace health and safety
- Indoor Air Quality/Ventilation Assessment and Improvement Program
- Occupational health surveillance
- Culturally competent spaces (Coming soon)
The Newcomer Health Program uses data to support public health, clinical, and resettlement partners in responding to the changing landscape of newcomer health, with a focus on conditions of public health importance and the prevention and treatment of those conditions. We work with community partners to build bridges between communities and public health teams, connect newcomers to their health screenings after arrival to Colorado, and use data to understand the short- and long-term health needs of newcomers to Colorado.
The overall vision and intention of the Data and Surveillance Unit is to help guide a more equitable response to health disparities in general, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic in particular. Our efforts will focus on epidemiologic tasks that can better identify the upstream determinants which lead to health disparities in Colorado.