Local health departments are building power for health equity


After years of struggling to close health disparities, a new movement has taken root: local health departments are using a set of strategic practices to confront the power imbalances and forms of oppression at the root of health inequities, change the conversation about what creates health equity, develop leadership and support innovation, and build a movement for health equity.

We want to scale up this transformation

This website is structured around a set of strategic practices that health departments can apply to more meaningfully and comprehensively advance health equity. Over and over, more health departments are asking “What are the strategic steps we can take to advance health equity at our health department?” This resource showcases success stories from across the United States to answer this question.

Local health departments are championing transformational change by:
  • Building internal capacity and infrastructure and taking strategic risks to advance equity

  • Fostering strategic community partnerships to build power and engage in social justice movements

  • Working across government agencies to develop shared ownership for health equity

Find your entry point to advance health equity...

Madison-Dane County Embeds Health and Racial Equity Capacity

Public Health Madison & Dane County, Wisconsin, has worked to build collective understanding and capacity across the health department and with other government agencies and community organizations to address racial equity. This has resulted in development of an internal health and racial equity team; a strategic plan with explicit equity goals; and application of racial equity analyses to programs, policies, and plans.

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Madison-Dane County Embeds Health and Racial Equity Capacity

What underlies our approach?

To systematically dismantle the patterns of othering and exclusion in government practice, we must pursue a wall-to-wall transformation of how local health departments work internally, with communities, and alongside other government agencies.

This inside/outside approach requires health departments to build internal capacity and a will to act on the social determinants of health and health equity. It also requires developing relationships with and mobilizing communities and government to advocate for action on health equity.