Over the past decade, there have been sustained health improvements for many residents of Alameda County. This is good news. And yet while overall health has improved, serious health inequities persist. Health inequities are defined as differences in health that are unnecessary, avoidable, unfair and unjust. Health inequities are related to both a history of overt discriminatory actions, as well as present-day practices and policies that perpetuate diminished opportunity and hazardous exposures for certain populations.
The Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative (BARHII), a collaborative of eight health departments, including Alameda County, has a framework for understanding health inequities. To address health inequities, we must tackle broader social inequalities – access to power, resources, and opportunities – all of which determine the distribution of health and disease within the population.
Social inequity causes health inequity. Health, disease and death are not randomly distributed. Illness concentrates among low-income peopel and peopele of color living in certain geographical places. Inequities in economic, social, phsyical and service environments continue to create and maintain clear patters of poor health in Alameda County, statewide, and nationally. In Alameda County, this phenomenon is particularly stark in certain communities of color and in neighborhoods that have high rates of poverty. A just society does not consign whole populations to foreshortened and sicker lives based on skin color and bank account size. If we are a just society, we must tackle the challenge of poor health and its linkage to race, social class and place.
Alameda County Public Health Department’s Goal and Mission
Our goal is health equity.
The mission of the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) is to work in partnership with the community to ensure optimal health and well-being of all people. Improving health and well-being calls for active participation from many. We believe that informed public health agencies and their constituencies must be committed to a broad array of activities to change the economic, social, physical, and service conditions that will lead to the improved health and well-being of our residents and the elimination of health inequities.
Latest Resource Publication: Getting Under the Skin – Using Knowledge about Health Inequities to Spur Action (May 2009)