IRHA Health Equity Working Group

Health equity is about creating a system where all individuals have equitable access to quality health outcomes. While health care is important, health equity reaches beyond the proximity to care facilities or one’s access to adequate coverage. For many communities, structural barriers to health equity are realized in limited access to nutritious food, safe and convenient transportation, environmental quality and basic housing.

Compounding these disparities are inequities in employment, educational funding, health care workforce diversity, and understandable mistrust of the health care system by diverse communities, with each factor woven into the complex fabric of poor health disproportionately experienced along racial and ethnic lines. COVID-19 has illuminated the health outcomes of our pre-pandemic state, where cradle to grave disparities have persisted as accepted health outcomes, evidenced by disparities in infant mortality and life expectancy.

IRHA has brought together representatives of groups like One IowaProteusthe Iowa Office of Latino Affairs, the University of Iowa College of Public Health, the Iowa Cancer Consortium  and members of the IRHA board to explore strategies to address health equity across rural Iowa.

Organizations like the American Hospital Association, which has a key resource guide on health equity, diversity and inclusion and the National Rural Health Association, which hosts an annual Health Equity Conference provide leadership and best practices.  But IRHA recognizes there are Iowa-specific issues related to equity and access that need local solutions.

Check in with page for updates, resources and recommendations as the Working Group begins its important work.

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The Midwestern Public Health Training Center, based at the University of Iowa College of Public Health, has health equity as one of its focus areas.  MPHTC has produced a series of podcasts called “Tackling Health Equity”.  The first in the series is an introduction and the transcript can be found here.