Office of Health Equity
***"I SPEAK" Cards are available (updated May 2019)*** -Your rights to language assistance!
***Health Equity Toolkit for Local Health Departments*** -A collection of resources and practical tools to help our partners incorporate health equity into every day work.
Healthy People in Healthy, Equitable Connecticut Communities
"Equal enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is a human right and a priority of the state." (Originally adopted from CGA Public Act No. 08-171, the Guiding Principle of OHE has been incorporated into the Mission Statement for the CT Department of Public Health)
The responsibility of the Office of Health Equity is "to improve the health of all Connecticut residents by working to eliminate differences in disease, disability and death rates among ethnic, racial and other population groups that are known to have adverse health status or outcomes. Such population groups may be based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, socioeconomic position, immigrant status, sexual minority status, language, disability, homelessness, mental illness or geographic area of residence."
This name and mission statement were adopted by the Connecticut General Assembly as Section 5 of Public Act 14-231 "An Act Concerning the Department of Public Health's Recommendations Regarding Various Revisions to the Public Health Statutes," which was signed into law by Governor Malloy on June 13, 2014.
Our strategies to eliminate disparities and achieve health equity focus on the social determinants of health, that is the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, age and die, including the health system. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power, and other resources at global, national and local levels. The social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities - the unfair and avoidable differences in health status seen within and between communities. (Adapted from the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health)
Culturally and linguistically appropriate services are a critical step in addressing long-term health and healthcare disparities confronted by diverse communities throughout the United States. (Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. Institute of Medicine, 2003.)
Racial and ethnic health disparities in Connecticut have been extensively documented in a series of DPH publications, presentations, and fact sheets on our Health Disparities webpage. Connecticut's population, currently 3.6 million, is diverse with 33.0% identified as a racial and ethnic minority. Hispanics or Latinos are the largest minority group at 16.1% of the state population, followed by Blacks or African Americans, 10.1%; Asians, 4.7%; those reporting two or more races, 1.7%; American Indians or Alaska Natives, 0.2%; and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, 0.04%. (Source: US Census Bureau. 2017 Population Estimate, Table PEPSR6H; released June 2018)
Limited English Proficiency (LEP) is another factor associated with poor health status and health outcomes. LEP is a known barrier in accessing healthcare and during healthcare encounters. There are approximately 512,000 Connecticut residents who were born in another country, about 753,000 residents who speak a language other than English at home, and 279,000 who speak English "less than very well." (Source: US Census Bureau. 2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-year estimates, Table S0501.)
CLAS Presentations and Publications
OHE Strategic Planning
Year 1 Accomplishments (October 1, 2015 – September 30, 2016)
The name and mission statement of the Office of Health Equity (OHE) are consistent with federal and state initiatives that emphasize the principle of health as a human right and social good for all people. The OHE name, mission statement, and strategic plan are also consistent with recent agency efforts and initiatives, such as:
The DPH Mission Statement, which was revised in 2012 to include the principle of health equity;
The DPH Strategic Plan, 2019-2023, which identified promoting health equity as one of five agency strategic priorities; and
The State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP), 2014-2020, in which health equity and the social determinants of health are overarching themes for the entire plan. A total of 39 SHIP objectives address health equity issues.
Strong partnerships are essential to our efforts. Our lead federal partner, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH), provides support primarily through technical assistance for our strategic planning efforts. From 2013-2015, DPH was the recipient of the State Partnership Grant to Improve Minority Health from OMH to support the efforts of the office and our then lead state partner, the Connecticut Multicultural Health Partnership (CMHP), to promote and implement CLAS Standards in DPH contractor, local health, and community-based agencies. CMHP was a statewide coalition of members representing health and social service organizations, public health entities, advocacy and coalition groups, colleges and universities, small businesses and community members. The Office of Health Equity (OHE) is also an active participant in OMH's National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities Region 1 Health Equity Council to identify regional health equity priority issues and collaborate with other New England states to eliminate health disparities.
The OHE Director is a member of the UConn Health's Public Issues Council (PIC). The PIC membership consists of staff from UConn Health, Connecticut Children's Medical Center, and the Community Health Center Association of Connecticut (CHCACT) to provide a breadth of experience and knowledge toward identifying health priorities for the state and region in order to improve health care delivery and health education for its patients and tomorrow's health and health care professionals. Its concerns span a variety of settings including affiliated hospitals, physicians’ offices, community health centers, schools, and educational community and state partners.
The OHE Director also serves as the designated requestor of Conrad State 30 Waivers as part of DPH’s participation in the US Department of State’s J-1 Visa program. The Director of the Primary Care Office will administer the Waiver Program in accordance with DPH Regulations 19a-2a-24 through 19a-2a-26. OHE Director will have final review of the applications prior to forwarding to the U.S. Department of State.
Other state partners include Connecticut local health departments, and all other state agencies and commissions. Our recent efforts to address health disparities and promote health equity include implementation of the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care in collaboration with local health departments and other community-based health and social services organizations.
Health Equity Policies at DPH
Policy and Procedures for Communicating with Persons of Limited English Proficiency (updated October 2016)
Health Equity Policy and Procedures (August 2016)
Health Equity organizations in Connecticut
National Health Equity organizations
Other equity-related DPH webpages
New and Noteworthy
ASTHO releases "Health Equity and Public Health Department Accreditation" (November 2018)
This report highlights examples of state health agencies' activities linked to promoting system-wide approaches that serve toward prioritizing health equity and fulfilling certain Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) Domains.
HHS finalizes rule to improve health equity under the Affordable Care Act (May 13, 2016)
Final rule prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability; enhances language assistance for individuals with limited English proficiency; and protects individuals with disabilities.
For more information about this rule, including factsheets on key provisions and frequently asked questions, visit http://www.hhs.gov/civil-rights/for-individuals/section-1557.
Office of Health Equity
410 Capitol Avenue, MS#13PHSI, Hartford, CT 06134
Phone: (860) 509-7140