Jun 10, 2019
What makes health equity, the opportunity for all people to be healthy and thrive, possible? According to Dr. Brian Smedley, it starts with recognizing our nation’s profound health disparities and the role of place and race in determining health outcomes. Data shows that higher rates of mortality occur in communities of color where food options, quality of air, soil and the physical state of schools and housing, including exposure to lead, endanger residents. And people in rural areas are compromised by a lack of access to health resources and care. As executive director of National Collaborative for Health Equity, Brian Smedley works with policymakers, on-the-ground advocates and health systems to understand that these conditions are the consequences of public policies that sort and segregate people based on race and ethnicity. Until we grapple with the injustice of these policies, both historical and current, we cannot change the conditions that marginalize whole communities. This is the foundation on which National Collaborative for Health Equity is building the community-based infrastructure needed for a healthier future. The Collaborative works with coalitions, comprised of policy makers, the health industry, researchers and community groups, to change systems, from housing to schools to health care. This approach is based in the idea that all communities have power, strength and resiliency. The Collaborative harnesses the talents of communities, and the skills of health professionals, to transform systems and change lives. This is a growing movement that, as Brian reminds us, can withstand the reversal of progress we are experiencing now, into a more just future.