Health Equity and Social Justice

The Health Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee membership is made up of GASHA employees and community partners. Grounded in social justice and an understanding of the many factors that impact health and wellbeing, the purpose of the Advisory Committee is:

  • To provide advice and recommendations for district action to address health inequities and disparities. 
  • To recommend practices within the organization which reflect the principles of social justice and population health.
  • To promote social inclusion and respect for cultural diversity within the facilities and programs of the district health authority and services delivered.

Committee Terms of Reference

Why Health Equity and Social Justice?

There are many factors that impact on the health of individuals, communities and populations such as income, education and social relationships. These have been broadly recognized as factors that determine health or the "determinants of health." For some individuals, communities and populations these factors can result health inequities and disparities and the ability to access to services and quality care.

To take action on health inequities or disparities it is important to address the challenges and barriers that prevent people from having equitable access to services and quality care. Some barriers are due to location (geographically isolated/access to transportation, social isolation, education, poverty and income. Others are related to the unique cultural needs of individuals and families from diverse communities.

With respect to diverse communities, cultural competence is critical to achieving health equity. Cultural competence begins by recognizing that as individuals, we all live and interact with our world within our own cultural understanding and biases. Hence, the system we build may not be inclusive of people who do not share the dominant culture. This exclusion of others has contributed to centuries of inequity and inequality. Cultural competence requires us to continually work within ourselves and with each other to create a system that meets the unique needs of people from diverse communities.

To achieve health equity, it is important that GASHA establish both practices and policies that meet the unique needs of the people we serve. This not only involves raising awareness, building skills and changing individual attitudes, but requires policies and quality standards that build an environment of expectation where everyone includes these approaches in their day to day work.

By working to achieve health equity, not only are we allowing people to have fair and confidential health care, but we are investing in the future of our communities and developing a system to prevent illness and disease.

Let's Start a Conversation About Health

The Health Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee began its work in 2011. Since then the Committee hosted a health equity and social justice consultation with community partners to have a conversation about GASHA's role related to health equity and social justice and what further action was needed. The report from this consultation was used by the Committee to develop the Health Equity and Social Justice Plan.

The Committee supported the development of a district video, Let's Have a Conversation About Health, to encourage discussion within the GASHA and the broader community about the determinants of health and their impact on the health of the community .

Health Equity and Social Justice Plan

The Advisory Committee has developed a three year action plan which has been approved by GASHA's Senior Leadership Team. The plan has three Action Areas, Goals and Recommendations that are outlined below.