Health Equity and Planning

Health is a condition of emotional, physical and social well being where infirmity and illness are absent. Various definitions have also been employed over the years for different purposes. The dictionary definition of health is, “the condition of being healthy.” The Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines health as, “being well.” It is something that everybody strives for and deserves.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “health is the vital condition of the body, a state in which the conditions of health are maintained through the availability of adequate food, energy, and shelter”. It aims at the well-being of the individual by ensuring the survival, well-being and the prosperity of society as a whole. The Universal Health Care Definition of Health puts it more simply, “a state of complete well-being”. It includes physical, mental, social and economic aspects of a person’s life.

Health equity is one of the key concepts of universal health care. Health equity refers to the differences in health conditions between urban and rural residents. This implies that health equity refers to the difference in treatment, ability to pay for treatment, social service availability, etc. These differences lead to health disparities. Health Equity refers to differences that may prevent a person from getting the necessary resources needed to attain the best possible level of health and may lead to worse health, even when hygiene measures are taken.

The concepts of health equity and health care disparities have been the subject of international discussion for many years now. In the USA, different agencies and organizations are charged with providing services to ensure healthy environments. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for setting standards for health, ensuring access to quality health services and promoting quality health care. The Medicare Shared Savings Program, for example, is designed to reduce the long term costs of health care by encouraging healthy behaviors and practices. On the other hand, the Agency for Healthcare Administration is responsible for implementing regulations for providers of health care.

In the context of healthy living, the definition of this concept has been extended to include a wide range of approaches, including lifestyle choices and professional interventions, as well as environmental changes, such as air quality, water quality, occupational exposure to toxins, and food intake. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are five universal aspects of a healthy lifestyle: a balanced diet, regular exercise, self-care, family care and complementary care. The WHO also defined a healthy diet as a diet that provides at least some basic requirements and is easy to achieve, including regular exercise and avoidance of risk factors that promote disease. A balanced diet is usually food that is easy to prepare and does not contain excessive amounts of saturated fat, salt or sugar.

As part of the planning phase for implementation of a strategy to support health equity, the strategies should include measures to reduce health disparities by addressing the existing patterns of racial and economic disparity. In addition, strategies should focus on reducing the occurrence and severity of diseases, disability and death rates at the local level that are associated with social determinants. In the planning phase, organizations should evaluate existing programs and projects, evaluate projected future trends in spending, consider the impact of newly implemented programs, and develop an action plan that addresses program evaluation in terms of effectiveness and cost. The ultimate goal of the strategy to support health equity is to reduce health disparities by closing the gap between the needs and experiences of the poor and the advantaged.