Health Equity Initiative
The Health Equity Initiative works to address the root causes of socioeconomic and racial injustices that lead to health disparities.
Health is more than health care
There is much more to our health than bad habits, health care or genes—what matters most are the social conditions that make us sick in the first place. Social factors we don't usually associate with healthcare just as important for health as efforts to get people to eat right, exercise more and stop smoking, including:
- Good jobs
- Affordable housing
- Clean environment
- Availability of sick leave
- Quality education
Poor neighborhoods are exposed to many health threats caused by crime, pollutants, and an overall lack of decent and affordable housing, safe places to play and quality schools.
About health disparities
Health disparities are population-specific differences in the presence of disease, health or access to care. For example, did you know that African American men in Multnomah County are 40 percent more likely than white men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 2 times as likely to die from prostate cancer as white men? Health disparities are not “natural”—racism and social class play a role in these differences.
Identifying health disparities
It is important to identify factors leading to these disparities because they can be changed. The Health Equity Initiative is one important step towards eliminating health disparities, and thus assuring a healthy community for all Multnomah County residents.
What you can do
We invite you to organize a screening of “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” for your work place, faith community, civic group, or community organization. This documentary explores how inequalities in housing, health, jobs, and education can translate into bad health and even death.
About the Multnomah County Health Equity Initiative
Launched in June 2007, the Health Equity Initiative is a county-wide effort focused on health inequities that also collaborates with local organizations to support policy change and monitor results. The project was first spearheaded by former Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler in partnership with the Multnomah County Health Department.
- To create a common understanding of the causes of and solutions to health inequities, with a focus on justice and equity.
- To raise the visibility of current prevention efforts by community-based organizations and county departments.
- To explore and advance policy solutions that address health inequities.