Kansas Department of Health & Environment

Kansas Health Equity Resources

Improving the Health of All Kansans:

Building Stronger Communities for Better Health

What is Health Equity?

The term health “inequity” goes hand-in-hand with the definition of disparities. Inequity describes the systematic and repeating pattern of disparities.

Health inequities are defined as “differences in health which are not only unnecessary and avoidable, but in addition, are considered unfair and unjust.”

In particular, people of color and low income people, experience one disparity after another. People working toward health equity seek to eliminate the unacceptable differences represented in disparities.

Health equity is the concept that “all people have an equal right to the conditions and resources that assure optimal health and safety”.
. . .(adapted from The Health Equity and Prevention Primer, Module 1, Prevention Institute.

  • The five leading causes of death are also conditions with high rates of disparities.
  • The leading causes of death, illness and injury are largely preventable.
  • A focus on health care services alone cannot eliminate inequities.

Moreover, primary prevention strategies should:

  • Address the underlying reasons why people are getting sick and injured in the first place;
  • Act at the population level by improving environments, including community conditions; and
  • Create equal opportunity

As primary prevention is implemented, it proactively promotes equity by emphasizing those who need it most, and accelerating efforts in communities that have been historically disenfranchised.

Community conditions shaped by elements in the environment (e.g., racism, poverty and discrimination) are systemically rooted in our society. Root factors such as these must also be addressed as we improve community conditions. Modifying the way that root factors play out in communities is an important part of reducing inequities. (The Health Equity and Prevention Primer, Module 1, Prevention Institute.  www.preventioninstitute.org)

Important resources

  • Documentary Film Series.  “Unnatural Causes:  Is Inequality Making Us Sick?”
  • Prevention Institute.

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A to Z Topic Listing

Tools and Resources

CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report - United States, 2011: Review the latest national data available on disparities!

Office of Minority Health: OMH works in partnership with communities and organizations in the public and private sectors to support a systems level approach to eliminating health disparities. Learn more about state and regional offices of minority health.
(state offices)   |   (regional offices) |
National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity |
Health and Human Services (HHS) Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities

National Association of County & City Health Officals
Health Equity and Social Justice Toolkit |
Guidelines for Achieving Health Equity in Public Health Practice |
Roots of Inequity:  A Web-based learning community
Funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, this site offers a conceptual framework and starting place for those who want to address systemic differences in health and wellness

ASTHO and the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the Department of Health and Human Services partner to create a nationwide initiative aimed at reducing health disparities and achieving health equity. How are states addressing health equity?  A 2008 state-by-state Health Equity Snapshot Map developed by ASTHO.

The mission of the National Partnership for Action is to mobilize and connect individuals and organizations across the country to create a Nation free of health disparities, with quality health outcomes for all people.