These days we hear a lot of people using the word “equity,” but what does it really mean? It’s not quite the same as equality, which means everybody gets treated the same. Equity is about fairness. It means that everybody gets what they need based on their own situation because we’re not all the same. The difference between equality and equity is important.
It’s part of the reason the United States spends more on health care per person than any other advanced nation and has much poorer health.
It’s important to remember that a person’s health depends on many factors: things like their environment, schools, and workplaces, to name a few. We call these social determinants of health, like clean drinking water for children and easy access to fresh food. We can follow the lead of communities like Columbia Gorge and Washington and Oregon where businesses, doctors, and farmers tackle the local hunger problem with the Veggie RX voucher program. And the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids is bringing down high rates of obesity in underserved communities.
We should be inspired by these local efforts and remember that health equity is all about making things better for all of us. When everyone’s healthy, everyone benefits..