Updated health equity guide published 

February 13, 2020

The Delaware Division of Public Health, along with the University of Delaware, has released the second edition of the Health Equity Guide for Public Health Practitioners and Partners.

The latest edition, which follows the 2015 release of the original guide, further supports the state’s efforts to advance health equity in Delaware. The guide highlights the best available evidence and data to explain the connections between social determinants of health and good overall health. Social determinants of health are the 90 percent of what affects a patient’s health that has nothing to do with clinical care, such as housing, transportation, employment, public safety, income or how close they live to a grocery store, park or healthcare provider. This guide also focuses on structural racism as a fundamental cause of health inequities.

“Everyone – regardless of race, religion, political belief, ability, sexual orientation and economic or social condition – has the right to a standard of living adequate for optimal health,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “By advancing health equity, we provide every Delawarean with equal opportunities to achieve their full health potential.”

For example, there is strong evidence tying the stability, quality, safety and affordability of housing to health outcomes. Throughout Delaware, there is a shortage of affordable rental homes available to extremely low-income households, whose incomes are at or below the poverty guideline or 30 percent of their area median income.

“Many of these households are severely cost burdened because they must spend more than half of their income on housing,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “Severely cost-burdened households are more likely than other renters to sacrifice such necessities as healthcare and healthy food to pay the rent. Plus, they’re more likely to experience unstable housing situations like evictions.”

To improve environmental and social conditions, all sectors – public health, healthcare systems, businesses, schools, religious organizations, lawmakers, community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and other stakeholders – must join together to address inequities tied to social determinants, and in doing so will help to advance overall health.

“As our understanding of what is needed for optimal health changes, so should our approach,” said Rita Landgraf, director of the UD Partnership for Healthy Communities. “Addressing equity is key, and this guide should be required reading for anyone working to improve the health of Delawareans.”

To read the guide, go to www.dhss/dph/mh/healthequityguide.html.

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