Health equity and health equality have become increasingly popular terms in recent years, particularly since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. While these terms may sound similar, it is important to understand that they have distinct meanings and cannot be used interchangeably. Equality refers to the idea that everyone should have an equal chance to access the same resources and opportunities. This means providing the same tools to everyone, regardless of their individual needs. This also means that individuals may receive resources they don’t need.
On the other hand, equity recognizes that different individuals or groups face unique circumstances, barriers, and conditions that may interfere with how they receive or access resources and opportunities. With health equity, resources are distributed based on these specific identifiers, ensuring that each individual or group receives the resources and support needed to live a safe, happy, and healthy lifestyle.
The Covid-19 pandemic triggered the shift of focus from equality to equity to promote better health outcomes for all. This emphasis on health equity led to a $420,000 grant awarded to Greater Bergen Community Action (GBCA) to focus on addressing unique community health challenges.
With the Health Equity Grant, GBCA has been able to provide a wealth of information, resources, programs, and services to those who may not have access to them. This included partnering with the Bergen Coalition of Black Clergy, local hospitals, and community leaders to assist individuals with gaining access to vaccines, resulting in 1,500 vaccines distributed throughout our communities. During the pandemic, GBCA also distributed over 241,000 meals to families and individuals in need and paid over $54 million in grants directly to small businesses to keep them running.
Greater Bergen Community Action recognizes that individual needs vary across communities, and we work diligently to address each one with the appropriate tools. Innovative projects like the Unity Health Partnership will help close the equity gaps within our most vulnerable communities in Bergen County by providing health screenings, mental health services, socioeconomic resource referrals, and produce for individuals and families.
Health inequities will continue to contribute to negative, but preventative, health outcomes if we don’t tackle them head-on. As a result, achieving health equity has become one of the main priorities in the Healthy New Jersey 2030 initiative.
To learn more about how GBCA and partners project Unity Health Partnership will address social determinants of health to close the gaps of inequities within our communities, click HERE.