Acknowledging NH’s racial, ethnic, and linguistic minorities are among the most vulnerable residents in NH, the following organizations collaborated to lead a process to identify priorities for action to advance health equity for racial, ethnic and linguistic minorities in NH, creating the Plan to Reduce Health Disparities and Promote Health Equity in New Hampshire:

  • Endowment for Health,
  • New Hampshire Minority Health Coalition,
  • Foundation for Healthy Communities,
  • New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Office of Minority Health & Refugee Affairs, and
  • New Hampshire Institute for Health Policy and Practice at the University of New Hampshire.

The public-private structure used in the process to develop the plan coalesced various individuals, organizations, and coalitions around a shared vision and into a partnership, the NH Health & Equity Partnership (H&EP).  The Partnership’s goal is to implement, evaluate, monitor, and improve the Plan.  The plan serves as a basis for collaboration between diverse stakeholders, public and private, to promote initiatives and policies that can help make our communities healthier places to live, learn, work and play for all.

The following descriptions are from The Center for Health Equity and Social Justice

What is Health Equity?

Health equity means that everyone has a fair opportunity to live a long, healthy life.  It implies that health should not be compromised or disadvantaged because of an individual or population group’s race, ethnicity, gender, income, sexual orientation, neighborhood or other social condition.  Achieving health equity requires creating fair opportunities for health and eliminating gaps in health outcomes between different social groups.   It also requires that public health professionals look for solutions outside of the health care system, such as in the transportation or housing sectors, to improve the opportunities for health in communities.

Health Disparities vs. Health Inequities

Photo of pregnant womanHealth disparities, or health inequalities, are differences in the presence of disease, health outcomes, or access to health care between population groups.  Health inequities, on the other hand, are differences in health that are not only unnecessary and avoidable but, in addition, are considered unfair and unjust.  Health inequities are rooted in social injustices that make some population groups more vulnerable to poor health than other groups.

Consider the following example.  Male babies are generally born at a heavier birth weight than female babies.  This is a health disparity.  While there may be a difference in the birth weight between male babies and female babies, the difference is unavoidable and rooted in genetics.  On the other hand, babies born to Black women are more likely to die in their first year of life than babies born to White women.  Some of this difference is due to poverty – a higher percentage of Black mothers are poor and face hardships associated with poverty that can affect their health.  But we find differences in the health of Black and White mothers and babies even if we compare Blacks and White with the same income. Many scientists believe that it is racism experienced by Black women that explains this extra difference.  Racism creates stress, and too much stress creates a risk for mothers and babies.  This is a health inequity because the difference between the groups is unfair, avoidable and rooted in social injustice.

The Social Determinants of Health

The following description is from Robert Wood Johnson Commission to Build a Healthier America

Where we live, learn, work and play have a tremendous impact on our health.  While going to the doctor and receiving medical care are essential for detecting and curing illness, access to health care can only account for 10 to 15 percent of preventable deaths.  Social factors such as housing, education, income and employment greatly influence the health and quality of life in neighborhoods and communities.  These social factors, generally referred to as the social determinants of health, determine whether or not individuals have parks and playgrounds to exercise, supermarkets to buy fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables, job opportunities to support their families, and other resources that allow them to be healthy.  While it is definitely important for us to encourage people to make healthy choices, we must remember that people can only make healthy choices if they have healthy options.