OPHA President’sMessage – Claire Boettler, MPH, RN
A major part of OPHA’s mission is to help ensure that everyOhioan has the opportunity to achieve optimal health. As OPHA President I also believe that allpeople in Ohio have the right to live the healthiest life possible no mattertheir race or income level, no matter where they live, and no matter theirgender or sexual orientation.
In order to ensure the conditions that will promote thehealthiest lives possible we need to collectively look at the social andenvironmental contexts in which many Ohioans live that disproportionately setthe stage for poor health outcomes such as chronic diseases, shorter lifespans, and poor birth outcomes. A majorpart of this “look” must include using an “equity lens” to look beyond surfacelifestyle choices and examine the deeper issue of how fairly resources andopportunities are available across racial and income groups, as well asgeographic areas. Equality refers to theidentical distribution of resources, decision making and outcomes regardless oflevel of need. Equity refers toproviding all people with fair opportunities to achieve their fullestpotential. Inequity refers to differences in well-being between and withincommunities that are systematic, patterned, unfair, and can be changed. Inequities are not random and are caused byour past and current decisions, systems of power and privilege, andimplementation of policies that unfairly benefit one group or groups more thanothers.
In accordance with its mission and in acknowledgement of theneed to adopt an “equity lens” in ensuring opportunity to achieve optimalhealth, OPHA’s Governing Council recently voted to add a Health and Equity inAll Policies (HEiAP) Committee as one of its standing committees. The vision of this committee is to look atthe total context in which our most vulnerable populations are impacted by thesocial determinants of health such as education, housing, safe neighborhoods,healthy foods, transportation, employment, etc. This focus takes into account that significant numbers of people havelittle to no control over the impact many “well meaning” policies orlegislation have on their overall health. The overarching goal of the committee’s work will be to promote theinclusion of HEiAP in all policy and legislative decision making throughoutOhio. The committee is looking forinterested members to help further this vision and goal – if you have a passionpromoting health and equity in all policies and are interested in becoming acommittee member, please contact Committee Chair Robert Jennings (Jennings.email@example.com) ormyself (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Health and Equity in All Policies IS Public Health!
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