Social determinants of health are the intersecting components of community life that keep us healthy. They include access to quality healthcare, education, jobs, nutritious food, safe housing, and transportation. When social determinants of health are adequately addressed for all members of a community, health equity is the result. By contrast, when social determinants lag, health disparities run rampant and contribute to unstable communities.
Research proves that healthy, equitable communities are in everyone’s best interests: crime plummets, all children benefit from inclusive educational practices, businesses thrive, emergency room costs decrease, civic participation increases, and municipalities save money. The list goes on and on.
Yet, health disparities are worsening.
In Pinellas County, our neighbors – nearly half of whom were already having trouble making ends meet before the pandemic – have been hit hard by the soaring cost of housing, inflation impacting everyday costs like groceries, the global instability that has contributed to skyrocketing gas prices, escalating barriers to affordable healthcare, and policy decisions rolling back rights and creating a climate of fear among those who already experience marginalization.
As a community, how can we collectively respond to this confluence of events, work together to restore hope, and take tangible and accessible steps toward health equity?