It is a privilege to work in the field of health equity and the social determinants of health, in part because of the powerful stories we hear every day of public health work that is making a difference. These stories come from across Canada and demonstrate the many creative ways practitioners apply often limited resources in their mission to decrease health inequities.
We noticed that many of these stories illustrate nicely the “10 Promising Practices” that can guide local public health work. These practices were identified and described by the Sudbury and District Health Unit in 2011 and they continue to serve public health practitioners and organizations as they develop and implement strategies to address the social determinants of health.
Today we are introducing a “blog series” to share some of the stories we have collected over the past year or so, and to encourage you to contribute your stories. Starting this week we will blog about initiatives that ground the promising practices in experience and that celebrate the diversity of approaches across Canada. Each blog will include links to essential resources available from our Resource Library as well.
We would like to hear from you! What experiences have you had in applying any of the promising practices to improve health equity? What resources do you use? Please send your ideas and examples to Lesley Dyck, Knowledge Translation Specialist and help us share your stories from the field.
With thanks to Helena Wall for her work capturing the initial stories, to Hannah Moffatt for her ongoing vision for the series, and Karen Fish for her support in getting the stories to completion.
Targeting within universalism has been identified as a promising practice to reduce inequities in health. This practice focuses more intensely on improving the health of more disadvantaged groups through targeted programs, while at the same time offering universal services to improve the health of the entire population. This approach is often used in conjunction with the promising practice of supporting early child development. Public health programs are designed to support the healthy development of all children with a special emphasis on children living in disadvantaged circumstances.
An important challenge for public health organizations is building and maintaining the knowledge, skill and experience required to work effectively on social inequities. This challenge has led to a variety of capacity building strategies for public health recruitment, job orientation and training, and ongoing professional development.
Social marketing has been identified as a promising practice for reducing inequities in health. It is defined as “the systematic application of marketing alongside other concepts and techniques, to achieve specific behavioural goals, for a social good”. Social marketing was selected by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) as a strategy to improve the health of pregnant women living in inner city neighbourhoods.
Northern Health in British Columbia undertook a community engagement process with northern Aboriginal communities of building relationships and working collaboratively to address issues stemming from marginalization and colonization to achieve a common goal of improving health for their people.
The health system plays an important role in coordinating the design, organization, and management of programs and services to achieve more equitable health outcomes for people. With this in mind, the BC Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) initiated the Reducing Health Inequities Project to identify actions the health system could take to reduce health inequities.