What is Health Equity?

by Dipti Venkatesh

Health equity is commonly defined as every person having a fair chance to achieve their best health. There are many factors that impact health equity: race, poverty, education, etc, but it is hard for regular people to influence these problem factors. For example, many people are aware of facts such as 96% of subjects in genome wide association studies, which research the connection between certain genes and particular diseases, are of European descent which leads to non-specialized care for underrepresented populations, but what can they do about that? Problems such as economic disparity and racial discrimination would take years to overcome, but peoples’ health cannot wait.

Leading into a simple question, what can we do in our day to day lives to increase our chances of equitable health? As stated above, education is one reason behind the disparity in healthcare. Solely educating people on what meals they should eat everyday to have a more balanced diet would increase their chances of health equity. Take the COVID-19 situation we are in. Many vulnerable communities, such as ones that cannot speak English, are not getting vaccinated because they are not able to understand how and why to get it. Just expanding our ways and range of informing people would allow them to increase the feasibility of good health. Little changes such as convincing people to quit smoking and implementing good hygiene policies for families that live together are also important.

Although these solutions seem trivial, if they are continuously implemented, the effects will snowball into a substantial increase in the plausibility of equitable health. Obviously while we attempt to incorporate these small changes into people’s everyday lives, we cannot give up on the umbrella problems of race, economic disparity, etc; but we are heading in the right direction.

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