COVID-19 shined a bright light on the existing inequities within our healthcare system and how social determinants of health impact communities of color and marginalized people. Making progress toward greater health equity is not the task of the public health system alone. It will require the investment and active work of all corners of local government.
Recent research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Urban Institute highlights the importance of community engagement and a local approach in advancing health equity and eradicating barriers to community well-being.
- Interviewees expressed the importance of states, community-based organizations, and community members developing a shared definition for “equity.” Many suggested a broad definition of “health equity” that includes addressing social determinants of health, such as safe housing, adequate nutrition, and financial stability.
- Taking a local focus (rather than statewide) is key to effectively engaging the community to advance health equity. Participants encouraged tailored strategies to helping communities, given that each has different demographic compositions, challenges, and strengths.
- Interviewees noted that diverse perspectives are integral to meaningful community engagement. Community members are often experts in the challenges their communities face and can offer valuable insight for solutions.
- Many study participants cited that a lack of institutional commitment, limited funding, and bureaucratic barriers often hinder effective community engagement.
Help us advance the conversation about what health equity means for your community at the 2021 MACo Summer Conference by joining us for the session described below.
Health Equity – What’s at Stake for Your County
Promoting public health means reaching every part of your community – admirable goals that require overcoming equity concerns. Some may have preconceived ideas about health equity and the impacts of social determinants on the health of their employees and citizens. They may think that social determinants are solely the domain of the Health Departments and can only marginally be influenced by policy. Health care in the age of COVID-19 has shed a new light on the importance of health equity in the form of vaccination distribution and access, behavioral health, and general wellbeing. This session will explore new ways for Counties to approach these challenges and adapt as we aim to keep all of our citizens safe and healthy.
- Meenakshi Brewster, MD, MPH, Health Officer, St. Mary’s County
- Timothy K. Cameron, Sheriff, St. Mary’s County
- Nilesh Kalyanaraman, MD, Health Officer, Anne Arundel County
- Ernest Carter, MD, PhD, Health Officer, Prince George’s County
Date/Time: Thursday, August 19, 2021; 3:30 – 4:30 pm
View the brochure for the full schedule and details on sessions being offered at this year’s conference!
Learn more about MACo’s Summer Conference: