What is Health Equity, and Why Does it Matter?  

At IEHP Foundation, we believe ALL communities in the Inland Empire deserve to be healthy, thriving and vibrant places to live. Our work centers around health equity to ensure that our region becomes a beacon of Vibrant Health—meaning everyone has a fair chance to be as healthy as possible. It is crucial that we, as a community, make sure no one is at a disadvantage because of factors such as where they live, socioeconomic status, race, gender or background.    

We envision health equity in the Inland Empire as an opportunity for every individual to be able to:  

  • Live in a safe, affordable and stable home. 
  • Access nutritious food in their neighborhood. 
  • Have educational opportunities that lead to high-quality jobs, thriving careers and wealth-building. 
  • Have opportunities to venture into entrepreneurship and grow businesses from the ground up.  
  • Be able to breathe clean and healthy air.  
  • Access quality health care regardless of insurance coverage, socioeconomic status or race. 

However, this is not a reality for many individuals, families and communities in our region. San Bernardino and Riverside counties rank below the 50th percentile in the Healthy Places Index (HPI) rankings, which measures health equity across the state. Environmental conditions, unjust systems and unfair policies have created vast – yet often unintentional – health disparities that have long impacted low-income, indigenous, immigrant and communities of color in our region. That is why it is crucial to support, collaborate and work with community based organizations (CBOs) and community leaders to recognize these long-term but often preventable disparities and find and implement solutions to advance health equity.   

Social Determinants of Health  

Health equity is more than equal access to health care. Health equity addresses the social determinants of health (SDOH) – the various conditions present in the environment where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age, which significantly impacts an individual’s health outcomes and can contribute to health inequities. SDOH are often grouped into four categories: 

  • Social, Economic & Systemic 
  • Behavioral  
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment  
  • Health Care Access & Quality  

As a matter of fact, research estimates that as much as 80% of factors that impact a person’s health are non-clinical factors, meaning that community, environment, social, economic and systemic factors greatly affect health outcomes. 

Health equity is closely tied to SDOH because these determinants can create barriers that prevent individuals or communities from accessing the resources and opportunities needed to lead healthy lives. Clearly, lack of access to food, quality jobs, education and safe housing can all impact an individual’s and community’s access to healthcare and other resources that greatly affect their overall health and well-being.  

Vital Conditions for Health & Well-Being 

IEHP Foundation aims to eliminate the myriad of factors that have led to long-time health disparities in our region to help every person who calls the IE home live a healthier and more joyful life. To reach this goal and address the SDOH, the Foundation utilizes the Vital Conditions for Health & Well-Being Framework. Each Vital Condition or “action area” is key in addressing health inequities and laying the Foundation for Vibrant Health in the Inland Empire: 

Advancing Health Equity in the IE  

Every community organization and leader can play a crucial role in increasing health equity across the region. We hope to partner with many of you who are already doing the incredibly hard work of combatting health inequities and improving access to the various factors that improve a person’s health and well-being.  

The Foundation aims to be a trusted resource for our community partners, so we look forward to providing additional helpful resources in the future, such as the following list of articles and tools about health equity and social determinants of health:  

  • Healthy People 2030 – Data-driven national objectives to improve health and well-being over the next decade.  
  • Social Determinants of Health – Description of SDOH from U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 
  • Vital Conditions for Health & Well-Being – The Federal Plan for Equitable Long-Term Recovery and Resilience (Federal Plan for ELTRR). 
  • Healthy Places Index (HPI) + Map – A project of the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, The Healthy Places Index® (HPI) is a powerful and easy-to-use data and policy platform created to advance health equity through open and accessible data. 

We are excited to partner with many of you and have you join our network of Champions for Vibrant Health to advance health equity so all individuals in the Inland Empire can live healthy and joyful lives. 

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