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California Department of Public Health Releases Health Equity Strategic Plan 

Office of Health Equity Strategy Looks to Achieve Optimal Health for All Californians 

Date: 8/20/2015 
Number: 15-061 
Contact: Anita Gore, Orville Thomas (916) 440-7259 

SACRAMENTO The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Office of Health Equity (OHE) today released a strategic plan, Portrait of Promise: The California Statewide Plan to Promote Health and Mental Health Equity, that examines health and mental health equity, and the social, economic, and environmental conditions that affect health. These social determinants of health shape the health of communities. 

“As a physician and a public health officer, I have seen firsthand how those who suffer the stresses of poverty and discrimination also suffer disproportionately from conditions that shorten lives and lower quality of life,” said Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH director and state health officer. “With a better data-based understanding of the causes and consequences of inequity, we will be better prepared to take the steps to improve the health of all Californians.” 

OHE was formed within CDPH in order to eliminate unjust and preventable disparities in health and mental health for all California residents. Portrait of Promise is the first demographic report and statewide strategic plan for OHE. It presents evidence on the root causes of health inequities and offers strategies on how to address them. 

According to Portrait of Promise: The California Statewide Plan to Promote Health and Mental Health Equity, almost one in four children in California lives in poverty, which is one factor that negatively impacts health. Other inequities include:

  • The death rate for African Americans is higher than all races/ethnicities
  • African American families are twice as likely as White families to suffer the loss of an infant
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQQ) youths attempt and complete suicide more often than their straight peers
  • Compared with the salaries paid to men, women still make less for the same work

“The data shows that income, education level, race, ethnicity, employment status, gender identity and sexual orientation are all related to health and health outcomes for Californians. Beyond the social and moral implications of inequities, there is also a financial burden to be paid as well.” said Jahmal Miller, deputy director of OHE. 

Portrait of Promise calls for better data collection and analysis to identify and respond to inequities, strategic communication to build awareness and enlist support in the fight against them, and changes in infrastructure aligned with the equitable health needs of the community. The strategic plan calls for leveraging the collective strengths of public and private resources in order to address the causes of the disparities. 

To receive notices related to the Strategic Plan and OHE affairs, the public may subscribe at ohe@cdph.ca.gov. 

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