Health departments are building power for health equity

After years of struggling to close health disparities, a new movement has taken root: 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

Cuyahoga County Uses Health Improvement Process to Lift Up Equity and Racial Inclusion

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Ohio, worked with a multisectoral consortium to develop an equity-focused Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). Their CHIP identifies health equity as a guiding principle and tackling structural racism as 1 of 4 strategic priorities.

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Cuyahoga County Uses Health Improvement Process to Lift Up Equity and Racial Inclusion
Colorado Changes Data Narrative and Incorporates Equity Metrics

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is working to change the narrative and framing of population health data to emphasize the importance of structural inequities and social determinants of health. CDPHE is also working to incorporate equity metrics into program evaluations and performance monitoring and use boilerplate language regarding equity in CDPHE publications.

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Colorado Changes Data Narrative and Incorporates Equity Metrics

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