CATALYST - FALL 2018 VOL 1 NO 2 - Page 4

CATALYST In Our Pursuit of Health Equity T here has been an explosion of interest, discussion, and action in the pursuit of health equity. Thought leaders have moved this issue to center stage in nearly every form of social investment and innovation from health research to programs and policy. Health equity has captured the passion of the public and private sectors as well as those underserved populations for whom the science and ethical principles most directly apply. At Healthcare Georgia Foundation, health equity has collided with our nascent understanding of health disparities and the social determinants of health, creating a transformation in our view of philanthropy and the purpose of our grantmaking. As a follow-up to my previous blog on the social determinants of health, I offer reflections on the Foundation’s emerging view of health equity. GARY D. NELSON, PhD, is President of Healthcare Georgia Foundation For more than a decade, health equity has been our vision and our “north star.” We broadly define health equity as a process and outcome where everyone in Georgia has the opportunity to attain their fullest potential for health and well-being. Driven by ethical principles and informed by science, we have relied on disparities in health as our opportunity yardstick to define the problem, to inform our charitable investments, and to measure the impact we seek to make. Our Foundation’s social contract dictates that we demand rigor, insist on evidence, take risks, and celebrate progress. We know that individuals and communities experiencing social exclusion, marginalization, discrimination, or disadvantages in opportunity manifest deeply intractable disparities in health and well-being. They are the motivation for our work. While the work is complex, and collective agreement difficult to achieve, we acknowledge and embrace those who join us, as we come to understand the following:  Health Equity is a journey paved with opportunities. Health Equity is not equality, opportunity is not distributed equally.  Communities are at the epicenter of health equity—place matters!  E Q U I T Y 4 Health Equity is grounded in the ethical principle of distributive justice.   The best solutions to health inequities should come from those most adversely affected.  Power, leadership, and relationships are the currency for achieving greater health equity.  The pursuit of health equity will be disruptive, uncomfortable, and threatening.  Health equity is a moral, cultural, civic, and humanitarian imperative. HEALTHCARE GEORGIA FOUNDATION