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

Get to know our case studies

Maricopa County Builds Health Equity Cloud

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH), Arizona, leverages collaborations with public and private partners to protect and promote public health with very limited resources. To build health equity capacity, MCDPH conducted an internal assessment survey, piloted a lunch-and-learn series, partnered with consultants to provide trainings and support workplan development, and incorporated their work into the Department’s “cloud” structure.

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Maricopa County Builds Health Equity Cloud
San Francisco Leverages Health Permits to Combat Wage Theft

Wage theft is a national epidemic that hurts workers, responsible employers, and the local economy. After learning through participatory research collaborations that wage theft impacts the health of many low-wage and immigrant workers, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, California, leveraged their restaurant health permitting process to hold employers accountable for wages stolen from employees.

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San Francisco Leverages Health Permits to Combat Wage Theft

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.

Check out our webinar series

To learn more about the Health Equity Guide and how health departments are advancing health equity, check out this 4-part webinar series with national experts and local health departments profiled in the Health Equity Guide. Each webinar focused on a set of strategic practices that health departments can take to pursue a wall-to-wall transformation of how they work internally, with communities, and alongside other government agencies. Organized by HIP, these webinars were co-sponsored with GARE, NCHE, and NACCHO. Learn more about the webinar series