Hastings Prince Edward Public Health is committed to ensuring that all members of our communities can access and benefit from our programs and services. This means we work hard to remove the systematic, unfair and modifiable barriers experienced by community members. We seek to create equitable opportunities for everyone in our communities to live a fulfilling and healthy life.
Health Equity and the Social Determinants of Health
Health equality and health equity are two unique concepts.
Health equality refers to everyone having equal access to the resources needed to be healthy. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same opportunities for health, which is where health equity becomes important.
Health inequality refers to a measurable difference in health between individuals, groups or communities. It is sometimes used interchangeably with the term ‘health disparity’. (1)
Health equity means that all people (individuals, groups and communities) have a fair chance to reach their full health potential and are not disadvantaged by social, economic or environmental conditions (1). This does not refer to everyone having equal resources to be healthy. It means that existing resources are more readily available for the most vulnerable populations.
Health inequity is a sub-set of health inequality and refers to the differences in health associated with social disadvantages that are systematic, avoidable and unfair (1).
Our Commitment to Health Equity
At HPEPH, we help support our community to be more equitable for all by:
- Strengthening meaningful partnerships with Indigenous community members and various organizations to support reconciliation.
- Increasing internal staff awareness of the complex history of Indigenous peoples in what we now call Canada through cultural awareness training.
- Monitoring and reporting on the relationship between social factors and health outcomes in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties.
- Working with community partners to develop policies that address the social determinants of health, like the internal Municipal Policy and Advocacy Working Group, as well as the external Poverty Round Table Housing Working Group, and the Belleville Inclusion Committee.
- Using special assessments that measure the impact of our programs on health equity, as part of our program planning, to determine how we can improve our services to reach those who need them the most.
- Working to enhance the public’s knowledge of how health is influenced by where we live, work and play.
Social determinants of health are the interrelated social, political and economic factors that create the conditions in which people live, learn, work and play (1).
The Wellesley Institute works in research and policy to improve health and health equity in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond through action on the social determinants of health.
The Wellesley Institute describes how health is shaped by a complex set of interconnected and dynamic social factors; the circumstances in which people live, grow, work and age. Check out this video to see how good health is more than healthcare.
Dr. Camara Jones is a past president of the United States Public Health Association. She describes the analogy of a cliff to explain the inequitable opportunities to achieve good health that exist today.
In Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, the social determinants of health significantly impact local health and well-being. Learn more from this resource about how health inequities influence health on a global scale.
If you want to learn more about the social determinants of health and health equity, please contact the Social Determinants of Health Nurse at Hasting Prince Edward Public Health.
A Statement on COVID-19
As we launch this new section of our website, we would like to acknowledge the inequities that COVID-19 has exacerbated. Many groups of our society face increased vulnerability to both the infection and the severity of infection due to socioeconomic factors. To reduce existing inequities, we must first learn about health equity and the social determinants of health.
The National Collaborating Centre for the Determinants of Health has a page devoted to equity informed responses to COVID-19.
The Public Health Agency of Canada outlines that the social determinants of health increase vulnerability to COVID- 19. Many of these vulnerabilities are intersectional, meaning they cross more than one social determinant and have a compounding effect. This includes anyone with (2):
- Difficulty accessing medical care or health advice (Access to Health Services).
- Difficulty reading, speaking, understanding, or communicating (Education, Literacy and Skills; Disability).
- Difficulty doing preventative activities, like frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezing (Disability; Personal Health Practices and Resiliency; Housing).
- Unstable employment or inflexible working conditions (Employment, Job Security and Working Conditions).
- Insecure, inadequate, or nonexistent housing conditions (Housing).
- Ongoing supervision needs or support for maintaining independence (Personal Health Practices, and Resiliency; Disability).
- Social or geographic isolation, such as in remote and isolated communities (Physical Environments; Indigenous Status).
- National Collaboration Centre for Determinants of Health. Glossary of Essential Terms [Internet]. Antigonish, NS; 2014. Available from: http://nccdh.ca/images/uploads/comments/Glossary_EN-_FINAL_May_19.pdf
- Public Health Agency of Canada. Vulnerable Populations and COVID-19. Gov Canada [Internet]. 2020; Available from: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/services/diseases-maladies/vulnerable-populations-covid-19/vulnerable-eng.pdf