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Health Equity

The Office of Health Equity (OHE) was formally integrated into the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) through an executive order signed in May 2007. It is located within the Office of Operational Excellence.

The role of the OHE is to:

  • Provide leadership to increase public awareness of health disparities in Pennsylvania.
  • Advocate for the development of programs to address health disparities.
  • Work with policy makers, insurers, health care providers and communities to implement policies and programs that result in a measurable and sustained improvement in health status of underserved and disparate populations.
  • Collaborate with state agencies, academic institutions, community based organizations, health partners, providers and others in the public and private sectors to eliminate health disparities in Pennsylvania.

What is Health Equity?

The American Public Health Association (APHA):

Defines health equity as everyone having the opportunity to attain their highest level of health.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
Says that health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to "attain his or her full health potential" and no one is "disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances."

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF):
"Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments and health care."

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "health is a state of complete physical, social and mental well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity."  Health is a fundamental human right and an essential component of economic development, vital to a nation's economic growth and internal stability."  As the sixth largest state in America, Pennsylvania is integral to the success of the nation. There is an economic and moral imperative to do all we can to improve the lives of all Commonwealth residents, whether they live in poor rural or urban communities.

Please contact David Saunders, Director of the Office of Health Equity at 717-547-3315 or