The Essential Role of Health Promotion in Advancing Health Equity

Perhaps no other singular issue is as fundamental to our mission as health promotion professionals as the need to advance health equity. In fact, Healthy People 2030 defines health equity as “the attainment of the highest level of health for all people.” However, many national foundations and organizations have clarified that the definition of health equity is insufficient if it does not address the need for fair and just opportunity to attain that highest level of health. Unfortunately, persistent systematic barriers related to structural racism, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, differing abilities and other factors continue to perpetuate and exacerbate glaring inequities.

Health promotion professionals are uniquely suited to leverage and catalyze the increasing attention and energy being invested in promoting health equity. Local and state leaders throughout the U.S. have declared racism a public health emergency. The Centers for Disease Control Core Commitment to Health Equity underscores their agency-wide strategy to integrate equity into the fabric of all of their initiatives. The World Economic Forum’s Global Health Equity Network recently launched a first-of-its-kind global heath equity pledge to create a healthier and fairer world that was signed by 39 government agencies, academicians, corporations and associations. Their collective vision is Zero Health Gaps. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation convened a Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems that produced recommendations entitled “Charting a Course for an Equity-Centered Data System”.

How, then, can we center health equity in all that we do within our organizations and communities? How can we more effectively partner with communities; activate multidisciplinary collaborations and public-private partnerships that shift ecosystems to create fair opportunities for health; and advocate for policy change? What steps must we take to ensure that advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning enhance our ability to promote health equity while not relying on flawed algorithms rooted in bias? What would it take to eliminate disparities in health and well-being?

Conference sessions will explore:

  • Innovative approaches for centering health equity in all health promotion initiatives
  • Inspiring examples of interventions that rely on community-based, participatory research approaches to advancing health equity
  • Creative partnerships that have been created to promote health equity
  • Measurement and evaluation models that recognize and address structural racism and other inequities.

Together, we will chart the course toward realizing the vision of Zero Health Gaps for the individuals, organizations and communities we serve.

Sara Johnson

Conference Chair:
Sara S. Johnson, Ph.D.

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