Health Equity

New Status Report

Michigan Health Equity Status Report, 2013, Michigan Department of Community Health (PDF)
This status report presents data for 14 indicators related to the social context in which women and children live. These data provide a snapshot of the non-biological factors that contribute to Michigan’s inequities in maternal and child health.

PRIME Definitions Video

Video discussing defintions used in PRIME
Sheryl Weir, Manager, Health Disparities Reduction & Minority Health Section, Michigan Department of Community Health

Definitions and Concepts

Health Disparities

Health disparities are significant differences in the overall rate of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, or survival rates in a racial or ethnic population as compared to the health status of the general population, regardless of the underlying reasons for the differences (Michigan Health Equity Roadmap (PDF)).

Health Inequity

Health inequities, which prevent health equity from being realized, are systemic, patterned, unnecessary, and avoidable differences in health outcomes, as opposed to random differences, and can be acted upon (Margaret Whitehead). Health inequities have their roots in unequal access or exposure to social determinants of health such as education, healthcare, and healthy living and working conditions (Michigan Health Equity Roadmap (PDF)).

Health Equity

Health equity, as defined by Health People 2020, is the "attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities".

"Health equity is the absence of systematic disparities in health and its determinants between groups of people at different levels of social advantage (Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act, 2000). To attain health equity means to close the gap in health between populations that have different levels of wealth, power, and/or social prestige.

Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)

Social Determinants of Health

Doak Bloss, Health Equity and Social Justice Coordinator, Ingham County Health Department

Social determinants refer to social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to the overall health of both individuals and communities (Michigan Health Equity Roadmap). Examples of such determinants include safe living and housing conditions, quality education, job opportunities, access to transportation, and availability of healthy food. The World Health Organization defines SDOH as "the unequal distribution of power, income, goods, and services, globally and nationally, the consequent unfairness in the immediate, visible circumstances of peoples' lives — their access to healthcare, schools and education, their conditions of work and leisure, their homes, communities, towns or cities — and their chances of leading a flourishing life"( WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health, 2008, p. 1).

A New Way to Talk About the Social Determinants of Health, 2010, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (PDF).
This report offers a new framework for talking about the social determinants of health that can resonate with policy-makers. It provides a framework for talking about the topic in a way that people can understand, that is meaningful, and that doesn’t align the topic with any existing political perspective or agenda.

Social Justice

Social justice is the equitable allocation of resources in society and the absence of unfair, unjust advantage or privilege based on race, class, gender, or other forms of difference (Michigan Health Equity Roadmap (PDF), Ingham County Health Department).


Racism and Infant Mortality video

Dr. Renee Canady

Racism is "an organized system, rooted in an ideology of inferiority that categorizes, ranks, and differentially allocates societal resources to human population groups" [Williams, D.R. & Rucker, T.D. (2000) Understanding and addressing racial disparities in health care. Health Care Financing Review, 21(4), 75-90].

Institutional Racism

Institutional racism is a systemic set of practices, patterns, procedures and policies that operate within institutions to consistently penalize, disadvantage, and exploit individuals who are members of non-White groups [Better, S. (2002). Institutional Racism: A Primer on Theory and Strategies for Social Change. Chicago, IL: Burnham].