While the term health equity is used widely, a common understanding of what it means is lacking.
What is health equity?
In a report designed to increase consensus around meaning of health equity, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provides the following definition: “Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.”
The definitional concepts presented in the report are based on widely recognized ethical and human rights principles and supported by knowledge from health sciences.
Consensus around definitions for an issue such as health equity can help bridge divides and foster productive dialogue among diverse stakeholder groups. Conversely, a lack of clarity can lead to detours, and pose a barrier to effective engagement and action.
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Also included in the report are examples of specific terms related to health equity that often arise in discussions around the concept.