Delaware Voice Karyl T. Rattay
10:05 a.m. EST February 2, 2016
mission at the Division of Public Health (DPH) is to protect and
promote the health of all people in Delaware. Public health work is
guided by a parable that says you can do your work downstream and pull
drowning people from the river -- meaning to focus on treating the
already sick. Or you can focus upstream and work with people to keep
them from falling into the river in the first place -- meaning prevent
an illness before it starts.
Working with our many partners,
Delaware is making progress as we can see population health measures
improving in many areas. Yet even as our overall health improves, we
have persistent health inequities in our state. In some cases, the gaps
we see in health between different population groups or communities are
getting worse, not better.
Individuals who are of low income or of
color are more likely to have diabetes, suffer certain kinds of cancers
and other serious chronic diseases, their life expectancy is often
lower, and disability rates among these population often are higher.
For instance, Delaware’s black infant mortality rate was as high as 2.8
times that of the white rate for the most recent data available.
Hispanic children in Delaware are four times as likely and non-Hispanic
black children are nearly twice as likely to be in less than optimal
health compared to non-Hispanic white children. The number of Delaware
children birth to age 5 living in poverty (a factor directly linked to
poorer health outcomes)climbed from 12,481 (17 percent) in 2008-2010 to
16,417 (24.7 percent) in 2012-2014, according to Kids Count.
and growing inequities are certainly not unique to Delaware, however,
it is time for a more concerted upstream—an effort focused on addressing
those inequities. Over the course of the past several years, DPH has
worked with many community leaders, non-profit organizations, other
governmental agencies and stakeholders to develop a strategy to reach
our vision of health equity for all Delawareans where everyone will
achieve their full health potential.
To help Delawareans
understand our health inequities and how to reduce them, DPH, the Center
for Community Research and Service at the University of Delaware, and
other partners created the Health Equity Guide for Public Health
Practitioners and Partners. I am pleased to present this guide as a
resource to support the efforts of DPH and our many partners, new and
old. In this guide, you will find the evidence that supports the need to
focus more of our attention and resources on underlying social
conditions in our communities. The document shares evidence-based and
promising strategies, and provides numerous references and web links for