Confront the Root Causes

Confront the Root Causes

How Can We Confront the Root Causes?

Confront power imbalances and the racial and other forms of oppression used to maintain those imbalances (Read actions you can take below)

Health inequities are typically the result of inequities in the social determinants of health. These inequities can be traced to social and political injustices — such as the unequal distribution of power and various forms of oppression used to maintain those power imbalances.

Advancing health equity means challenging these power imbalances and forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, ableism, and xenophobia, in all aspects of our work — both internally in our departmental policies and practices, and externally in how we work with communities and other government agencies. Embarking on this work acknowledges the very real context in which people and communities of color and low-income people and communities — who have borne the brunt of these inequities — are able to more meaningfully and authentically partner with health departments to advance health equity.

Actions to Advance Equity Using This Practice

Your leadership, staff, and department take the following actions to confront the root causes:

  • Stand up for and speak out about racism, class exploitation, gender inequality, and power imbalances, as well as the effects of social exclusion to staff, other agencies, elected officials, the public, and the media
  • Apply knowledge and training around bias and structural racism in program and policy work
  • Engage in meaningful ways with communities experiencing inequities in order to develop a shared agenda to advance health equity
  • Promote policies and practices to explicitly assess and address power imbalances, racial equity, and the disproportionate impacts of oppression in your organization’s work
  • Influence, develop, and/or implement policies to improve social and economic conditions in your jurisdiction, especially for populations of color and others experiencing health inequities
  • Apply participatory budget tools and/or processes to health department programs and city/county/state decision making to enable community decision-making on where funding should be allocated
  • Use tools such as data collection, reports, presentations, assessment, and program evaluation to identify health inequities and demonstrate how they are connected to policy, system, and environmental conditions and opportunities
  • Develop and utilize frameworks or theories of change that acknowledge and address the role of power on social, racial, and health inequities
Last Updated: June 28, 2017