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Iowa Department of Health and Human Services

Health Equity

Health Equity Vision: Building Health Equity for All Communities

Iowa HHS Health Equity Mission: Iowa HHS will protect and improve the health of all people in Iowa where they live, work, learn and play by uniquely tailoring efforts that advance optimal and equitable health outcomes.

Health Equity is the attainment of the highest possible level of health for all people. It means achieving the environmental, social, economic and other conditions in which all people have the opportunity to attain their highest possible level of health. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and healthcare disparities.

The Iowa Department of Health and Human Services has developed initial policies and plans for embedding health equity across internal and external work through accreditation, workforce development, data management, and planning efforts. There are a number of divisions and bureaus that have excelled at developing comprehensive strategies to address health inequities and develop internal strategies to support health equity infrastructure. In 2022 and beyond, Iowa HHS is in a position to significantly expand efforts to ensure that all people across the state have the ability to attain their highest level of health. We can accomplish this by explicitly tying a justice-centered approach to identifying and addressing pressing health inequities in historically excluded populations with a specific focus on people of color/indigenous people, people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQ+, people who are poor, and people with other demographic characteristics that have been historically excluded from access to opportunities and services to support optimal health.

A health equity framework is required to identify the internal opportunities to fully integrate health equity perspectives and capacities and to understand and embrace the unique social and community context within Iowa. We can also identify core public health roles, a root cause analysis to health inequities, and opportunities to shift roles and resources to meet our obligations to residents to support upstream public health strategies while addressing critical health and environmental issues.

A primary objective in the next five years (2022-2026) is to ensure that Iowa HHS has thoroughly assessed and addressed opportunities to significantly shift efforts and resources towards addressing institutional and structural inequities that lead to disproportionately negative outcomes for some populations. Foundational work includes adoption of this health equity framework and focus areas, and a health equity implementation plan.

Iowa HHS is working to achieve health equity through the following focus areas:

  • Organizational Culture
  • Internal Policies and Procedures
  • Data Equity Framework
  • Planning and Performance Improvement
  • Partnerships and Community Engagement

IDPH health equity image, circles with named focus areas.

The Health Equity Program provides HHS staff members and other stakeholders with technical assistance, and resources including:

For more information about HHS work related to health equity:

Use the Contact US system to submit a question to the Health Equity Office.