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Welcome to the Center for Health Equity

Working Together to Build Healthier Communities

What is health disparities?

Health disparities refer to the inequities that exist among various segments of the population that put them at greater risk for physical and mental health problems, or reductions in the quality of their daily lives. Health disparities result in premature illness, poor quality of life, a lack of access to high quality health care, and shortened life expectancies.

Healthy People 2020, the initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defines health disparity as “a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage."

Health disparities often disproportionately impacts populations who have systematically experienced barriers to optimal health based on their:

  • Race/ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation and gender identity 
  • Disability 
  • Mental health status 
  • Geographic location
  • Others

Find out about the upcoming Healthy People 2030 framework here.

How do we achieve health equity?

Long-term solutions create social, political, and economic conditions that promote health equity:

  • Public health policy and law contribute to health equity. Political and legal solutions allow access to high quality and longer lives.
  • Communities contribute to the health status of residents. Community members need access to physical and social infrastructure that promotes healthy behavior.
  • Individual behaviors contribute to health outcomes. People need access to skills, knowledge, and quality of life to make healthy choices.