There are several ways to define health equity, but the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provides the following definition:
"Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care."
The North Carolina Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (OMHHD) has provided financial and technical support resources to the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services (GC DHHS) to implement an agreement addendum designed to, "bridge the health status gap between racial/ethnic minorities and the general population, and advocate for policies and programs that improve access to public health services for underserved populations."
Health equity work is gaining traction within public health entities across the country, and other counties have incorporated it into specific programs, departments, and for some, across their entire health department. GC DHHS has been chosen as one of 10 pilot sites for this 18 month project, and the implementation of CLAS standards will become required best practice for all NC health departments within 5 to 8 years.
What is the purpose of this team?
Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services (GC DHHS) Health Equity Team will:
Receive specialized training about health equity and CLAS standards.
Assist in collecting, reviewing, assessing and reporting on CLAS-related DHHS Public Health client data to establish a baseline for where our health department stands currently.
Make a plan for how CLAS can be institutionalized within our organization to promote health equity.
Conduct CLAS-related assessments and share results with NC OMHHD and the community.
Identify opportunities to modify policies and practices of our health department to build toward greater equity in our community.