It was late 2011. The term “health equity” was increasingly moving to the center of the health-related discourse. Yet, not many people knew (and still don’t know) what it meant. Not many people outside of the expert community and some specific professional sectors were or are engaged with this topic. Yet, many people want to leave a healthier world to their children and grandchildren.
With Health Equity Initiative’s founding board of directors, founder Renata Schiavo felt that a comprehensive approach was needed to address the health disparities that affect our cities and neighborhoods both in the United States and globally. An approach that would harness the power of community and citizen engagement, increase awareness on the root causes of health disparities, and build capacity for health equity interventions. An approach that is grounded in best practices and existing evidence. Most important, at the center of all Health Equity Initiative’s efforts is the aspiration to build a multisectoral community in support of health equity, so that we can all realize that no single sector alone can be effective in addressing health disparities, and therefore, we should all contribute to helping achieve better chances for better health for all. (BTW, if you are still confused about the term “health equity” go to our fact sheet on Why Health Equity Matters for relevant definitions and facts and figures).
Initially dedicated to building community, capacity and strategic communication resources for health equity, HEI quickly made progress towards all of its action areas thanks to the generous support and partnership of many individuals and organizations that contributed their time, funds and ideas. Our Highlights of Accomplishments speaks for itself.
Yet, this was still not enough. We know that to inspire community action and create the strategic partnerships necessary to support health equity, it takes a village. We know that investment in health equity and other causes that seek to achieve social change and foster innovation is still limited when compared to aspirations (both in terms of public/audience engagement and funding opportunities). We also know that too often we all work in silos and many professionals don’t even realize they are contributing to health equity. This is when we started working with the idea of transitioning into a multisectoral membership organization…to bridge silos among different professionals sectors, disciplines, communities, and stakeholders in health equity issues.
The new HEI was born and launched on April 30, 2014 thanks to the input and participation of many of our followers:
- Ninety-six (96%) of the 253 participants in an online survey we conducted in 2013 expressed interest in a membership organization solely dedicated to health equity/health disparities
- Our revised mission, strategic goals, benefits, and action areas reflect the vision and priorities of the online survey participants and the many colleagues from multiple sectors and community leaders who joined our team in our public meetings regarding the redesign of HEI
Photos from HEI’s public meetings on strategic planning for our membership launch/organization, 2013. Photo Credits: Alka Mansukhani.