In Public Health Law and Ethics, A Reader, Third Edition, edited by Lawrence O. Gostin and Lindsay F. Wiley, the book includes discussions about the social justice commitment to protecting vulnerable populations against health risks and injury, and developing protections against discriminatory practices. Contributors Harry J. Heiman and Samantha Artiga write:
Addressing social determinants of health is important for achieving greater health equity. The presence of health disparities is well established in the United States. Longstanding research has consistently identified disparities experienced by racial and ethnic minority, low-income, and other vulnerable communities. [In its ten-year plan for improving the nation’s health, Healthy People 2020, t]he Department of Health and Human Services defines health disparities as “differences in health outcomes that are closely linked with social, economic, and environmental disadvantage.” Healthy People 2020 goes on to state that “health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.” These definitions recognize that health disparities are rooted in the social, economic, and environmental context in which people live. Achieving health equity—defined by Healthy People 2020 as the highest level of health for all people—will require addressing these social and environmental determinants through both broad population-based approaches and targeted approaches focused on those communities experiencing the greatest disparities.
See the other topics in the book in the table of contents. And explore other books on public health, including the Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint, Third Edition.
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