Over the course of our many years working in and along side local health departments, conversations about health equity have moved from the sidelines to center stage. This growing commitment to health equity among local health departments has never been more important than it is right now.
Our national discourse is now routinely scapegoating and placing whole populations under direct threat, manifesting itself in profoundly adverse short and long term health consequences. The fundamental commitment to longstanding strategies, and programs that serve low-income people has been undermined, resulting in core services being placed on the chopping block. A newly emerging pattern of rising mortality in rural white communities is becoming a trend.
The crises are many, but the roots are the same: policy-making grounded in the exclusion of some people from the benefits of full inclusion in our society and the lack of targeted universal, prevention-minded investments that benefit all of us.
Our current crisis is man-made, and can be unmade. It will take every sector, especially government, to act boldly and chart a new course. In this moment, it is California’s local health departments’ stated commitment to advance health equity that gives us hope. The trick is translating commitment into real action. Through the Health Equity Awards, The California Endowment pays tribute to those vanguard departments demonstrating what health equity looks like in practice; demonstrating what it takes to “unmake” the root causes of health inequities, even in the face of increasingly unfavorable odds. Our hope is that these bold and innovative departments serve as inspiration, spurring more jurisdictions to move from commitment to courageous action.
Dr. Robert K. Ross | President and Chief Executive Officer
Dr.Tony Iton | Senior Vice President
Arnold X. Perkins Award for Outstanding Health Equity Practice
In honor of a man with inspired vision, passion and commitment to social justice and health equity in California, the Arnold X. Perkins Award is awarded to county health departments that demonstrate outstanding health equity practices.
Past Arnold X. Perkins awardees
Since 2012, Monterey County Health Department (MCHD) has been using Health in All Policies (HiAP) framework with a Collective Impact approach to intentionally expand upstream work on social determinants, including staffing and funding support for a department ‘backbone’.
The Alameda County Public Health Department application highlighted their work on housing inequities, which includes issues of habitability (e.g., code enforcement), affordability (e.g., rent increases) and access (e.g., resident displacement), focused particularly in low-income communities in Oakland.
Exemplary Health Equity Practice Award
Recognizing and supporting innovative local public health department work that goes beyond the traditional scope of public health department programs, shows promise of making significant progress in reducing health inequities and that can inform future work committed to health equity.
Past Exemplary Health Equity Practice awardees
The Sonoma County Department of Health Services application highlights Health Action, a countywide cross-sector coalition of leaders aimed at improving health and health equity in Sonoma County. Established in 2007, Health Action developed a framework that reflects the key determinants of a health community, with a particular emphasis on social determinants of health including income, education, community connectedness and the built environment.
The Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, Public Health Branch application features Reach Higher Shasta, a community collaborative focused on addressing the root causes of poverty by increasing educational attainment and career development among Shasta County youth.