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Saying it out loud: Explicit equity prompts for public health organization resilience

Explicitly embedding health equity into public health processes and documents explicitly can be challenging. When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, health equity work was often put ”on hold.” 

This paper describes a training and follow-up pilot conducted by the National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCCID) and NCCDH with public health organizations to ensure health equity concerns are explicitly embedded into their work and remain a priority during emergencies. Across four sessions, the NCCID and NCCDH worked with 15 public health practitioners at a public health organization with the purpose of codifying health equity into their work.

The sessions were structured using the following questions: 

  • Which populations are at risk of inequities? 
  • What action is required to mitigate inequities? 
  • How can that action be taken? 
  • Who is missing at the decision-making tables or in the considerations?

Practitioners reviewed how disadvantaged populations were represented in their emergency protocols and participated in developing a heat map, demonstrating where more work was needed to involve community partners in a sustainable way. Explicit prompts moved participants from engaging with health equity as an idea to engaging with health equity as something codified and measurable. 

Results from the training sessions demonstrate that a thoughtful and explicit health equity approach can contribute to building resilience for and during future emergencies.


Use this resource to:

  • identify organizational approaches to achieve health equity and relationships with community partners
  • move from understanding health equity as a theory to understanding health equity as a codified, measurable practice
  • facilitate discussions about health equity and emergency preparedness


Related Resources:

Health equity frameworks as a tool to support public health action: A rapid review of the literature

Lessons in pandemic planning, response and recovery: A summary of Equity in Action stories


See other resources on organizational capacity.


Haworth-Brockman, M., Betker, C., & Keynan, Y. (2023). Saying it out loud: Explicit equity prompts for public health organization resilience. Frontiers in Public Health, 11, Article 1110300.

Tags: COVID-19, Leadership & capacity building, Organizational capacity, Document, Journal Article