Across the Americas, there continue to be wide gaps in health and longevity between rich and poor, educated and lesser educated, and people at high or low risk of being the targets of violence.

To address these gaps, the Health Equity Network of the Americas has been launched to coincide with the release of recommendations from the Pan American Health Organization Commission on Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas. Its guidelines call on nations and communities to take steps to ensure health equity and well-being for all populations.

The equity network comprises health equity experts from 26 countries and organizations representing nongovernmental groups; family and private organizations working for the interests of citizens; academia; and government agencies. The network focuses its energies on research, policy and advocacy work, sharing knowledge and promoting policies that encourage political, economic and social equality for all genders, particularly in regions of significant health inequity.

“As we launch the Health Equity Network of the Americas, these recommendations from the Pan American Health Organization are an important alignment with our mission to promote knowledge-sharing and action by multiple players to promote health equity and human rights as priority issues in the Americas,” said HENA founding chair Dr. Michael Rodriguez. He is professor and vice chair of the department of family medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and professor of community health sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “We are proud to serve as a collaborator to help implement these recommendations in the coming months through equity network members coming from public and private agencies in the region,” he said.

The commission’s recommended objectives and actions include:

  • protecting the natural environment, mitigating climate change, and respecting relationships to land
  • recognizing and reversing the health equity effects of ongoing colonialism and structural racism
  • promoting dignified life at older ages
  • reducing violence affecting health equity
  • improving housing conditions
  • implementing equitable health systems
  • fulfilling and protecting human rights

The executive summary of the Pan American commission’s final report was released Sept. 24.

“Better health and greater health equity will only happen when the conditions for all people to achieve their highest possible level of health and to lead dignified lives is achieved,” said Sir Michael Marmot, the commission’s chair.

The detailed recommendations can be found at the Health Equity Network of the Americas website.