What is ‘Health Equity’?

Health equity is achieved when everyone has equal opportunity to “attain the full health potential”, regardless of their gender identity, their sexual orientation, the color of their skin, where they were born, their level of education, the religion they practice, the language they speak. 

What does it mean for Racialized Communities?

Race is an idea developed by society to create differences among groups of people based on their skin color. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirms that “the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law … without discrimination based on race”. However, racism has defined and created most of the inequitable structures that exist in our society. This construct shaped social, political, and economic factors that have put communities at increased risk for negative mental health outcomes and health-related behaviors, as well as chronic and toxic stress or inflammation. Racialized populations are less likely to have health insurance, more likely to face cost-related barriers to getting care, and more likely to incur medical debt.  It is also less common for individuals from these racialized groups to have a usual source of care or to regularly receive preventive services, like vaccinations (Check out: Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity).

In addition, racialized communities face discrimination when dealing with clinicians and more often receive lower-value or suboptimal care (also referred to as ‘medical racism’ and ‘unconscious bias’). Stigma and bias keep the healthcare industry from wrapping their arms around healthcare as a well-being issue, like instances of caring for individuals with Sickle Cell Disease (Check out: Sickle Cell Awareness Group of Ontario). 

Systemic racism threatens physical health and wellbeing. Health inequities can be seen as biological expressions of race relations. Using an equity lens in health promotion and public health requires a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach and a lot of work. 

To advance health equity, we need to adopt critical and anti-racist approaches to understand and transform the public policies. Together we must create a world where social, political and economical status or identifiers are not determinants of our access to care, quality of care or health outcomes.


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Ika Washington

Ika Washington founded DiversityTalk intending to create a platform and consultancy that can work with organizations and corporations to engage with marginalized and underrepresented groups within the health and social service space. 
Ika Washington is a public health professional specializing in health policy and equity. She is passionate about best engagement practices, building meaningful partnerships, programs and services to improve the complex social and health problems impacting communities. Equipped with a diverse experience, including governance and regulatory affairs, policy development and implementation, health research design, and project management, coupled with an M.Sc focusing on social science and a progressive Ph.D. in Health Policy and Equity,  Ika thrives on being solution-based to improve spaces for marginalized groups and improve business designs. 
Ika’s work experience includes working as a Policy Analyst and Program Specialist at Health Canada and Regional Lead for an Indigenous Health Authority serving over 31 First Nations communities in Ontario. In leading the stage as a global speaker, she has been featured in Leafly, Globe and Mail, The Green Room, GrowOp, Postmedia, and guested on various podcasts and documentaries.
Ph.D in Health Policy & Equity – York University (progressive) 
M.Sc. in Social Science – University of Southampton (UK)
B.Sc. in Biology (Ecosystem & Health) – Western University