Office of Health Equity
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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." (CGA Public Act No. 08-171)
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. 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 490,000 Connecticut residents who were born in another country, about 734,000 residents who speak a language other than English at home, and 282,000 who speak English "less than very well." (Source: US Census Bureau. 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5 year estimates Table S0501.)
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, 2013-2018, which identified championing health equity as one of six goals; 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, provides support primarily through technical assistance for our strategic planning efforts and the State Partnership Grant to Improve Minority Health.
Our lead state partner, the Connecticut Multicultural Health Partnership (CMHP), is the direct community service organization, which was supported by the federal HHS grant. CMHP is 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.
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 CMHP.
State Partnership Grant to Improve Minority Health (2013-2015)
DPH was a recipient of the HHS Office of Minority Health State Partnership Grant to Improve Minority Health, 2013-2015. This grant supported the efforts of the office and our lead partner, CMHP, to promote and implement CLAS Standards in DPH contractor, local health, and community-based agencies.
Health Equity Policies at DPH
CT DPH Policy and Procedures for Communicating with Persons of Limited English Proficiency (updated October 2016)
CT DPH Health Equity Policy and Procedures (August 2016)
Quantifying the Potential Economic Benefits of Health Equity in Connecticut: Disparities in Hospital Charges and Costs among Blacks and Hispanics compared to Whites, 2005-2012 (presented at the Keeneland Conference in Lexington, KY; April 21, 2015)
Cost of Disparities Analysis (for Connecticut) (April 2014)
Health Equity Toolkit for Local Health Departments and Other Partners - A collection of resources and practical tools to help our partners incorporate health equity into every day work.
Health Equity organizations in Connecticut
National Health Equity organizations
Other equity-related DPH webpages
New and Noteworthy
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