We have set a goal for ourselves to reduce the burden of diseases among vulnerable populations within Hillsborough County. We will accomplish this goal by working side by side with the Health Equity Coalition Hillsborough County, of which we are a member, as well as entities in the community at large both public and private. Our main purpose is best stated in our Mission Statement:
The mission of the Office of Health Equity in the Community Health Division is to assure that the burden and impact of diseases on vulnerable populations are acknowledged and addressed through research, advocacy, surveillance, education, training, and program development. The OHE will work to promote, protect and improve the health and well being of minority and under-served populations through wide-ranging programs and policy initiatives.
We intend to accomplish this mission via a basic framework:
- Policy and environment- This is where the Health Equity Coalition Hillsborough County itself is directly involved. We have partnered with this community coalition to survey the current status of health and wellness in Hillsborough County, as well as the political policies and regulations that can shape this status. As a coalition we will identify differences in the overall health and well-being of different social, cultural and ethnic groups within Hillsborough County. These health disparities must be singled out and identified. We will then look into the social determinants of health that directly lead to these disparities. Once we have defined these factors, we will work together to identify existing policies and gaps in existing policies that allow these conditions to be present. We will also develop specific action steps and policy suggestions, which we will either put into place ourselves or suggest that entities who have significant influence within the community put into place.
- Program- The Program aspect of our framework will labor to put individual courses of action into effect, which will improve health standards in Hillsborough County via:
- Increasing collaboration among existing public and private entities whose activities affect health, wellness and differing segments of the population. Entities can be grassroots organizations, government offices, private businesses or anyone else who is a stakeholder in our county.
- Increasing access to both information and resources that allow individuals better health-related options pertinent to everything from access to a medical home, to availability of healthy and affordable food options.
- Aiding in the prevention, management and reduction of risk of acquiring prevalent diseases and negative medical outcomes. Specific disorders and states of health that affect populations that suffer as a result of health disparities will be targeted such as: Type II diabetes, negative birth outcomes and obesity.
- Increasing participation of minority-focused healthcare providers, non-profit organizations and students who focus their efforts on segments of the population that suffer from health disparities. Not only will this immediately provide better access to knowledge and medical care, but it will also promote an environment that fosters good health within neighborhoods and segments of our population that currently lack either.
- Increasing awareness of health disparities to the community as a whole. Ignorance of facts and everyday event within portions of our community help to create a community that has glaring health disparities. By educating members from all segments of our community, bridging gaps in healthcare and policy will become more manageable.
- Research- Understanding and defining both health disparities and the social determinants of health within Hillsborough County is integral to our mission. We gather metrics that we will then evaluate and use to plan methods of improving our community. We will also use these metrics as benchmarks that will allow us to track improvements in health standards. In collecting and evaluating these metrics, we will be able to identify additional assets that we will need to acquire to accomplish our objectives and best decide how to use the assets that we have at our disposal.
Role of the Health Equity Coalition Hillsborough County
The coalition itself is a diverse group of community representatives. Through our diversity we are able to ensure that we consider all aspects of our community and the necessities that change will require. Through our common goal, we are able to join together and facilitate effective changes in Hillsborough County. The coalition itself will function by:
- Providing feedback to the Hillsborough County Health Department’s Office of Health Equity
- Facilitating external communication by using influence or contacts that coalition members have within the community
- Developing specific objectives that will work to change the social determinants of health that create disparities
- Developing an action plan that specifically defines how the above mentioned objectives will be reached
- Considering sustainability in all objectives and action plans, so that the work that our coalition and our office does will have lasting positive effects on Hillsborough County