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All health systems are challenged to address the unfair health differences that exist in *health status;

  • access to health care;
  • access to health enhancing environment,
  • access to treatment and services within the health and social service systems.

This quest for reaching those who cannot reach or access the system is what is described as equity orientation and in simple language it may be described as “reaching the unreached” and “equal treatment of all subjects”.

Inequity is generally due to, *disadvantage by geography, eg- inaccessible terrain

  • marginalization by caste or class or ethnicity
  • social exclusion by gender, disability, social discrimination or stigma of illness.

Equityin health is defined as the absence of systematic disparities in health and inequities are ‘differences in health that are unnecessary, avoidable, unfair and unjust’. Equity is an Ethical Concept and is placed under the larger frame of Social Justice.

The concept of inequity is to understand that the determinants of health inequities are largely socio-political in nature, and just distribution of resources needed for health requires some degree of social and political mobilization.

Being equity oriented means striving to create a situation “in which disadvantaged population groups (whether defined by age, gender, race-ethnicity, socio-economic class or residence) can better achieve their full health potential, as indicated by the health standards of those groups in society who are most advantaged. Taking affirmative and preferential action to improve the health of those with the poorest health when they face unjust obstacles to achieving that potential”

Compiled from

  • Pan American Health Organization, Renewing Primary Health Care in the Americas; A position paper of Pan American Health Organization- World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization,/World Health Organization, Washington D.C, PAHO, 2007
  • Braveman,P., Gruskin, S., Defining Equity in Health. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health,2003;57:254–258
  • Global Equity Gauge Alliance, Concepts and Definitions

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