Health Equity Report for the District of Columbia 2018
The Health Equity Report for the District of Columbia 2018 from DC Health takes a comprehensive look at social and structural determinants of health in Washington D.C. and presents the extent of health disparities aligning with differences in income, race, and geography. The report recognizes that climate change poses long-term risks to human health, disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable, and that climate adaptation is critical to reduce negative impacts on all people.
Highlighting social inequities and health disparities that reflect a larger historical context, the report discusses nine key drivers of health to 51 statistical-neighborhoods, including: education, employment, income, housing, transportation, food environment, medical care, outdoor environment, and community safety. Summaries of the demographic characteristics and health outcomes are provided for each of the eight wards that make up D.C. Throughout the report thematic maps are presented to provide a visual comparison of various demographics, health drivers, and health outcomes across the neighborhoods and wards of D.C.
The report finds that 80 percent of population health outcomes are driven by non-clinical factors (eg. social, economic, genetic, and behavioral). Despite overall health outcome improvements in D.C. over the last decade, the report states that health has not improved at the same rate for everyone due to underlying inequalities, emphasizing: “inequalities in health are created by inequalities in society.” Life expectancy, the key overarching health outcome highlighted in the report, was found to differ by 21 years between the neighborhoods with the highest and lowest expectancy, indicating that “your zip code may be more important than your genetic code for health”.
The report acknowledges that climate impacts such as increasing extreme weather events, flooding, and other ecosystem disruptions put human health and safety at risk, but disproportionately so. Vulnerability to climate change was found to be unevenly distributed with the highest concentrations of vulnerability located in the two wards (Wards 7 and 8) with the highest minority - primary black - populations, the lowest median incomes, and large elderly populations.
DC Health aims to use this report to inform and reframe discussions around health improvement opportunities and work towards a “health in all policies” approach to improve healthcare and achieve health equity in DC.
Publication Date: February 8, 2019
- District of Columbia Department of Health (DC Health)