Mother and child

Health Equity is a fundamental component of social justice that indicates the absence of avoidable, unfair or remediable differences among groups of people due to their social, economic, demographic or geographic circumstances. PAHO defines health equity as both its mission— “To lead strategic collaborative efforts among Member States and other partners to promote equity in health…” and as its first value— “Equity: Striving for fairness and justice by eliminating differences that are unnecessary and avoidable.” Health equity emphasizes that most of the differences in health status and outcomes between groups are not the result of biological differences, rather they result from social and economic processes that create and recreate differences in access to health.

PAHO supports Member States in their efforts to achieve equity in health through work on gender equity; ethnicity and health; ensuring the right to health; the social and environmental determinants of health; measuring, analyzing and monitoring health inequalities; strengthening health systems; and knowledge management and dissemination, among other areas of focus.


Tools and Resources

Several integrated tools have been developed to identify groups excluded from health initiatives and reduce and eliminate barriers to access to health and health services for groups in situations of vulnerability due in large part to social, economic and other structural factors. These factors, or determinants of health, can be structural, social, environmental, commercial or behavioral.