By Corinne Murdock |
The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) will give $25 gift cards to attendees of an LGBTQ+ “health equity” event on Tuesday.
Attendance was limited to 30 people, or $750 in gift cards. Attendees were required to be at least 18 years old, living in Pima County, and identifying as an LGBTQ+ community member.
ADHS partnered with the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF) to host the event. SAAF confirmed with AZ Free News that there would be about 12 participants. Also helping facilitate the event was Lenartz Consulting — a company owned by Tracy Lenartz, a health planning consultant for ADHS. Recordings from these in-person listening sessions are anonymized and transferred to ADHS for review before being destroyed.
According to ADHS, referencing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “health equity” is defined as the fair and just opportunity for all to achieve the highest level of health. Equity is also at the center of the CDC’s 10 Essential Public Health Services framework, unchanged for 25 years until September 2020 — less than four months after the death of George Floyd, which spurred months of Black Lives Matter (BLM) riots and social justice campaigns across state and local governments.
“To achieve equity, the Essential Public Health Services actively promote policies, systems, and overall community conditions that enable optimal health for all and seek to remove systemic and structural barriers that have resulted in health inequities,” stated the CDC. “Such barriers include poverty, racism, gender discrimination, ableism, and other forms of oppression. Everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to achieve optimal health and well-being.”
ADHS adopted an “equity focus” as one of its core values, and added “advancing health equity” to their strategic map issued last year.
The map noted that “equity focused” meant that ADHS valued and respected diverse life differences. In order to understand its equity focus, ADHS suggested resources for the community such as training modules on social determinants of health and how health inequity is rooted in “powerlessness.”
The ADHS definition of social determinants of health suggests that personal behaviors and clinical care are only a minor part of what determines one’s health. The other, greater factors would be social, economic, and environmental conditions: policies, programs, systems, communities such as transportation options, segregation, housing, discrimination, crime, and poor quality of education.
The concept of powerlessness referenced by ADHS comes from institutions like the World Health Organization (WHO), which theorizes that a lack of social and institutional power inequities results in poorer health in the poor, minorities, and women. The WHO suggested that political interventions must be implemented in order to reverse negative health trends: legal reform, or changes in economic or social relationships.
ADHS also participates in an annual Arizona Health Equity Conference which tackles these issues. This year, they will be joined by Arizona State University (ASU) Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center, Arizona Alliance For Community Health Centers, A.T. Still University, Dignity Health, Esperanca, Equality Health, FSL, Honor Health, Mayo Clinic, Mercy Care, and the University of Arizona (UArizona) Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.