Health equity means that everyone has a fair opportunity to meet their health potential. Health inequities, then, are differences in health status that are modifiable and unjust. Health inequitities result from social, economic, or environmental disadvantage, and therefore are closely related to the social determinants of health. These social determinants affect individuals' behaviours in ways that affect their health. Moreover, exposure to healthy and unhealthy environments is also influenced by social, economic, geographic, and other factors. (Refer to the NCCDH Glossary of Essential Health Equity Terms for more information.)
BC's Guiding Framework for Public Health includes equity as a cross-cutting issue that relates to every facet of public health. This framework calls on the public health system to identify community health needs, address barriers, and consider access to services in the development and implementation of policies and programs. Equity is increasingly present in policy documents such as this, but the extent of translation into practice at the regional health authority or personal practice levels is not known.
(1) Identify environmental health inequities, highlighting populations with higher exposures to harmful substances or that lack exposure to health-supporting environments;
(2) Work toward solutions that promote equity, such as healthier built environments or the use of health impact assessments; and
(3) Advocate for services that help vulnerable communities address their inequities by addressing their determinants of health.
This project is called Through an Equity Lens: A New Look at Environmental Health. It is funded by a 2014-17 PHSA Population and Public Health Primordial/Primary Prevention Project grant. Through an Equity Lens is administered through Environmental Health Services at the BCCDC and managed by Dr. Karen Rideout, Environmental Health Policy Analyst at the BCCDC.
Through an Equity Lens: A New Look at Environmental Health aims to:
- Increase knowledge of health inequities related to the natural and built environment and improve understanding of how these inequities impact environmental health practice.
- Assess the capacity of BC's environmental public health workforce to support health equity and define what that support might look like.
- Develop resources to help incorporate equity into environmental health practice.
- Better equip vulnerable populations to take action to address their own health inequities.
- Identify options to integrate environmental health equity considerations into health system policies in BC.
pages share information about the processes used and knowledge gained from
the Through an
Equity Lens project.