How can local health departments effectively advance health equity? In this webinar, we will describe a set of “inside” and “outside” strategic practices that public local health departments can use to advance equity. The panelists will provide concrete examples of how they have implemented these practices, their lessons learned, and their practical guidance to local health department staff interested in tackling similar efforts. We will cover specific practices such as hiring and contracting, staff training, partnering with community organizing groups, and using Health in All Policies. Broader themes to be discussed include confronting the root causes of inequity and supporting leadership and innovation to advance equity.
Health inequities result from inequities in the social determinants of health, which in turn result from racial and other forms of oppression and power imbalances. Public health practitioners face numerous challenges in tackling these root causes of health inequities, including risk-averse leadership, political pushback, perceptions of the limits of scope of public health practice, and lack of capacity and resources. Advancing equity, therefore, requires “inside” and “outside” strategies. On the inside, leadership and staff of health agencies must first build their understanding of equity, power, and oppression and then act on that understanding. But by itself a health agency will never have enough power to advance equity, so work outside the department is also necessary. Health agencies must build relationships and work closely with community groups and others that can use their democratic rights to advocate for change and hold the agency and others in government accountable to their needs.
This free Web Forum is recommended for all local health department staff and public health professionals interested in advancing health equity. Closed captioning will be available for all attendees.