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What is Health Equity?

What Is Health Equity? illustration graphic
*A two-part illustration graphic where the top portion shows an example of equality where a disabled girl, a large adult man, a small adult woman, and a young boy are attempting to use the same-sized bike. The bottom portion shows an example of equity where all the bikes are catered to each person's needs with the disabled girl using a special handcycle, the large adult man using a larger bike, and the small adult woman and young boy using smaller bikes.

By definition, equity is defined as the quality of being fair and is distinguished from equality. While equality means providing the same for all parties, equity means acknowledging that people don’t start from the same place—imbalances exist and adjustments must be made to address these imbalances.

When it comes to health, health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible while acknowledging and removing the obstacles to health, namely, discrimination, poverty, lack of access to good-paying jobs, etc.

Health disparities are a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. These health differences may include the number of people who get a certain disease, the severity of the disease, and more.

Research has shown that health disparities are more likely to occur within groups of people who have experienced greater obstacles to health based on a part of their identity such as race, gender, orsocioeconomic status.

The study of health disparities is important because it not only affects the groups facing disparities, but also helps evaluate the quality of care and health for the rest of the population. Check out our What Is Health.pdf for more information on health equity and health disparities!