Health is about so much more than hospitals, insurance systems, or treatment protocols. In fact, our health is profoundly influenced by social determinants - where we live, our income, our education, and the color of our skin. Health equity concerns those differences in population health that can be traced to unequal economic and social conditions that are systemic, institutionalized, and many decades or even centuries in the making.
Many studies have revealed a health-wealth gradient in which every descending rung of the socioeconomic ladder corresponds to worse health and lower life expectancy. Achieving health equity requires widening our lens to bring into view the ways in which jobs, working conditions, race, housing, social inclusion, and even political power influence individual and community health.
Healthy Equities Group
In 2008, local leaders convened a Health Equities Group to begin exploring the concept of health equity through the PBS series Unnatural Causes. This 4-hour video series sounds the alarm about the enormous socioeconomic and racial disparities in health and searches for their causes. Using the video along with local data, the Health Equities Group is piloting a project to facilitate community dialogues about the critical links between socioeconomic conditions and health.
Conversations with government, social service, healthcare and other nonprofit organizations are designed to raise awareness about the concept of health equity and determine how we can move toward greater health equity through the work of individual organizations, as well as through community-wide collaboration. Long-term, our vision is that these dialogues will be a catalyst for mobilizing Santa Cruz County residents to address health inequities in their neighborhoods through community organizing and policy reform.
Health Equities Group, Santa Cruz County
Central California Alliance for Health
Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County
Health Improvement Partnership of Santa Cruz County
Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust
Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency
Santa Cruz Women's Health Center
Watsonville City Parks and Recreation
Watsonville Law Center