Health Equity & Social Justice
Our health and wellbeing are directly impacted by our community environments. Unfortunately, not all environments are designed to promote and support healthy people. Some communities face disproportionally lower air quality, lack access to healthy food and safe places to be physically active, and do not have systems that support quality education and employment. As a result, in the U.S. and around the world, people of color, low-income communities, people with disabilities, and other marginalized populations still lag behind on most health indicators and health outcomes.
At its core, public health must also be a call for social justice. The Public Health Institute is committed to researching and acting on preventable health disparities by developing, testing, and advocating for public health strategies that are designed to promote health equity—directly intertwined with efforts to achieve social justice. Our health equity work includes efforts in chronic disease prevention, communicable disease prevention, climate change mitigation and solutions, violence prevention, and more. We work to advance community-based, health equity research and best practices, while also developing new leaders in the field.
Our expertise includes:
- Research and data: Our experts have conducted cutting-edge research that has helped to demonstrate health disparities, and highlight the need for equitable solutions.
- Leadership development: PHI staff will work with you to create a leadership development program curriculum, using best practices, new technologies, and bringing health equity and social justice lenses to the work. We specialize in developing culturally-relevant and scalable leadership models, and have experience working across disciplines to advance health equity through transformational leadership.
- Program and policies to support health equity: We know that quality equitable health solutions aren't simply designed to rectify health disparities—they are also community-driven, and based in addressing a community's most pressing concerns. Our staff is available to design, advocate for, and manage programs and policies to advance equitable, community-based solutions.
- Evaluation: PHI offers ongoing and as-needed evaluation to measure your impacts in addressing health disparities to inform program improvement, and bolster success.
- Training and capacity building: We also offer specialized trainings and technical assistance to support your efforts in advancing health equity.
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Resources and Tools
- Advancing health equity: Case studies of health equity practice in four award-winning California health departments
- Climate Change, Health, and Equity: Opportunities for Action
- Confronting the Social Determinants of Health Inequities: Rethinking Public Health
- Economic Empowerment Strategies for Adolescent Girls
Connie Chan Robison
Anne Kelsey Lamb
Tomás A. Magaña
Denise Raquel Dunning
Bay Area Regional Health Inequities Initiative
Berkeley Media Studies Group
Build Healthy Places Network
Center for Climate Change and Health
Center for Wellness and Nutrition
Cultiva La Salud
Health in All Policies
Health Intervention Projects for Underserved Populations
Health Spectrum Program
Regional Asthma Management and Prevention Program
Roots of Change
Here's How We're Making a Difference
Advancing Health Equity Through Healthy Housing Policies
In 2015, PHI's Regional Asthma Management & Prevention program (RAMP) played an important role in advocating for two new healthy housing policies passed in California—SB 328 and SB 655—that will reduce exposure to asthma triggers, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color.
In recognition of this work and ongoing efforts in this area, RAMP received the 2016 Housing and Urban Development Secretary’s Award for Healthy Homes on behalf of the California Healthy Housing Coalition. The award recognizes excellence in healthy housing innovation and achievement.
This past year, RAMP continued its successful work with California Healthy Housing Coalition partners to improve housing quality. Closing a loophole in legislation RAMP worked to get signed last year (SB 328-Hueso), RAMP co-sponsored and the governor signed AB 2362 (Chu) to ensure tenants are notified of pesticide use, including those living in condominiums and townhomes.
In 2016, RAMP also co-sponsored a bill in California that gives tenants new rights when they discover dangerous mold, which is linked to asthma and other respiratory diseases. Now listed as a condition of substandard housing, tenants can hold landlords accountable if the problem is not fixed. Until the bill passed, tenants had few options if their residence had mold. With the new legislation, renters can now for the first time report mold problems to the city, which can then demand repairs and fine landlords who don't comply.
RAMP has plans to continue advocating for healthier housing in the years to come.
Mapping Health Disadvantages in California
The 2016 release of the new California Health Disadvantage Index, developed by PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California and health departments across the state, provides census-tract level snapshots of the social determinants of health alongside measures to advance equity at a local level.
The index features a user-friendly interactive mapping tool with key factors to identify populations most vulnerable to poor health outcomes, along with measures to advance equity at a local level. This accessible data may lead to more targeted health interventions in underserved communities.
The Health Disadvantage Index also ranks census tracts statewide, and is a useful tool in prioritizing areas with high levels of social disadvantage. By quickly flagging key metrics, the goal is to help communities and policy makers target limited resources and guide effective on-the-ground actions. Learn more about the tool.
Mentoring the Diverse Health Care Workforce of Tomorrow
"FACES not only made me be want to be a doctor,” said Chris Travis (pictured, left), a 2007 graduate of FACES Oakland, and a first year medical student at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, “it introduced me to people who would help me one day make that dream a reality."
Evaluations show that a full 100% of FACES students graduate high school, compared with only 40% of their peers in some communities. Nine out of 10 are accepted into post-secondary college or training, and a large number plan to go on to pursue healthcare and health-related professions.