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Understanding Health Equity, Health Disparities & Social Determinants of Health

Healthy Equity Image - Landing PageThe Ohio Department of Health (ODH) is committed to the elimination of health inequities.  Through its Office of Healthy Ohio, ODH is addressing elimination of health inequities via increased awareness and action in ODH programs and initiatives.

Certain groups in Ohio experience a disproportionate burden with regard to the incidence, prevalence and mortality of certain diseases or health conditions. These are commonly referred to as health disparities. Health disparities are not limited to one disease or health condition and are measurable through the use of various public health data.  Most health disparities affect groups marginalized because of socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, disability status, geographic location or some combination of these factors.

People in such groups also tend to have less access to resources like healthy food, good housing, good education, safe neighborhoods, freedom from racism and other forms of discrimination. These are referred to as social determinants. Social determinants are necessary to support optimal health. The systematic and unjust distribution of social determinants among these groups is referred to as health inequities. As long as health inequities persist, marginalized groups will not achieve their best possible health.

The ability of marginalized groups to achieve optimal health (like those with access to social determinants) is referred to as health equity.

Last Reviewed 2/4/12