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Health disparities and health inequities are two terms used in health reporting. While the two terms are used interchangeably, a close look at their definition shows that the two terms, although close have distinctive meaning. It is important to understand the differences for rational health reporting. Health Disparities And Health Inequities.
According to Truman et al (2011), health disparities are differences in health outcomes and their determinants between segments of the population, as defined by social, demographic, environmental, and geographical attributes. These authors define health inequities as a subset of health inequalities that are modifiable, associated with social disadvantage, and considered ethically unfair. Both of these terms are used to measure the community health as well as provide the information necessary in health policy making. In U.S public health literature as well as in the U.S federal laws, health disparity is used to refer to the gaps in health between segments of the population (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2007).
Where a health inequity has been determined, a social action is needed. More importantly it is a call for the government to provide social amenities that shape social determinants (Truman et al 2011). Such facilities to level the access to health include provision of comfortable housing, safety standards and provision of social safety nets for income and nutrition. The main contention with the use of the concept health disparities is that it fails to capture that health inequality which is avoidable and unacceptable.
Cambridge dictionaries online. (2001) Cambridge dictionary of English. Retrieved on March 22, 2012 from http://dictionary.cambrisge.org
Pokras, O. (2002). What is a “health disparity”? Baltimore: Univ. of Maryland School of Medicine.
Truman et al (2011). Rationale for regular reporting on health disparities and inequalities-United States. New York: Center for Disease Control and Prevention
US Department of Health and Human Services: Healthy people 2010: midcourse review. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2007. Retrieved March 22, 2012 from http://www.healthypeople.gov/data/midcourse