It is now common to use the terms “health equity” and “health disparities,” but they rarely have explicit definitions. Moreover, since these terms may be ambiguous, they can be used incorrectly, leading to improper use of resources. For people involved in public care, it is essential to understand these two terms, see the difference between them, and be able to determine the negative impacts of some drivers of health disparities on overall health outcomes.
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In simple words, health equity means that all people get access to a just and fair opportunity to stay healthy. This is a final destination of an extended and challenging process (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). It consists of eliminating healthcare barriers, addressing any sort of discrimination, and ensuring that those who are initially deprived of some privileges can receive them with the help and support of others.
Further, health disparities are those differences and obstacles in receiving and providing health care that interferes with health equity. Disparities are linked with environmental, economic, and social disadvantages, and their effects on various groups of persons who always experience some sort of discrimination are adverse (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Therefore, health equity and health disparities are opposed to each other.
There are many drivers of health disparities that can negatively affect the desired health outcomes. For example, some of these drivers are poverty and bad air or water quality. These three causes can be the basis for further discrimination or decreased access to healthcare. For instance, poor people or living in a polluted area ultimately have worse health conditions and are unlikely to receive the proper support. Additionally, LGBT people, rural communities, or communities of color are disproportionally exposed to environments and conditions that adversely influence health.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Reaching for health equity. CDC. Web.