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Health Equity Report for the District of Columbia

Friday, February 8, 2019
Highlights Key Factors that Impact Health in the District

(WASHINGTON, DC) — DC Health released today the “Health Equity Report for the District of Columbia 2018,” a comprehensive report focusing on social and structural determinants of health in the District. The report highlights nontraditional key factors that affect health, which include: education, employment, income, housing, transportation, food environment, medical care, outdoor environment, and community safety.

The report considers opportunities for health by looking at nine key drivers of health to 51 statistical-neighborhoods. Despite many improvements in health outcomes over the last decade for District residents overall, several indicators show that health has not improved for everyone at the same rate due to underlying inequities. As measured by almost any indicator, these disparities are generated by differences in income, race, and geography.

Health inequities are neither natural nor inevitable. Opportunities for health are driven by a broad spectrum of societal, structural and institutional laws, policies and practices,” said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director of DC Health. “We must engage multiple sectors and community partners to generate collective impact which is essential to improving the health of all District residents, including achieving health equity, as we work to become the healthiest city in America.”

Key insights in the report show that overall, clinical care drives only 20 percent of population health outcomes, while the remaining 80 percent is generated by non-clinical factors. The data throughout the report presents a picture of significant differences across neighborhoods that align with disparities in health outcomes, including life expectancy, with differences of twenty-one-years between the two ends of the spectrum.

This first-of-its-kind comprehensive look at nontraditional key drivers of health at the neighborhood level underscores their interconnected pathways and visualizes the extent of variation across the continuum by income, race and space in the distribution of opportunities for health,” said Dr. C. Anneta Arno, Director of the Office of Health Equity, DC Health. “In order to create equitable opportunities for health in the District, we must leverage all the key drivers, and more. We must break out of our siloes, by taking equity-informed collaborative actions for change. Together, we must disrupt the persistent creation of stratified opportunities for health and wellbeing. Health equity is everybody’s work.”

DC Health will launch community wide conversations; engage leaders in the District’s public, private, and nonprofit sectors about how their decisions impact health in the city; and underscore the importance of adopting a multi-sector “health in all policies” approach to improving health and achieving health equity.