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NC Affirms Major Commitment to Health Equity in New State Plan

The new NC State Health improvement plan intends to advance health equity by diminishing disparities for historically marginalized populations throughout the state.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has buckled down on its pledge to advance health equity in its recently released 2022 North Carolina State Health Improvement Plan (NC SHIP).

The NC SHIP key strategies of health equity, education, and economic stability for all North Carolinians add to the NCDHHS 2021-2023 Strategic Plan, which prioritizes improving behavioral health, bolstering child and family well-being, and building an inclusive workforce. 

“Healthy people and healthy communities are the foundation of a thriving, prosperous state,” said Susan Kansagra, MD, NCDHHS assistant secretary for Public Health, said in a press release. “This is why we need to ensure every North Carolinian has the opportunity to be healthy, regardless of their race or ethnicity, where they live, or how much money they have.” 

Healthy North Carolina 2030, as a companion document to NC SHIP, offers goals to reduce health disparities and improve the health outcomes of North Carolina residents by mobilizing healthcare organizations to work together.

The 2022 NC SHIP gives information regarding the proper strategies and processes to achieve the Healthy North Carolina 2030 indicators.

The Healthy North Carolina 2030’s population health model will be used to propose policies and programs that address the essential patient outcome factors focusing on 21 indicators in Healthy North Carolina 2030.

To track the 21 indicators’ progress, the NCDHHS will use the Clear Impact Scorecard, a web-based tool tracking growth on the proposed programs and policies in NC SHIP, like racial gaps in infant mortality, severe housing problems, and poverty.

Currently, North Carolina’s racial disparities in infant mortality are concerning, the press release stated. In the state, Black infants are 2.5 times more likely to die before their first birthday than White babies. Social determinants of health, such as educational, economic, environmental, and social factors, play a role in infant mortality.

To reduce infant mortality and address racial disparities, NC SHIP lays out a shared goal equipped with an accountable process and partnerships.

“We know that common objectives and aligned work across multiple sectors are essential for making meaningful, lasting change,” Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, NCDHHS state health director and chief medical officer, said. “We encourage partners to identify those Healthy North Carolina 2030 indicators your organization can adopt and become involved in the process of making lasting, positive change.”

Organizations have been looking to advance health equity and address disparities throughout the nation.

Recently, a community-led coalition came together to boost state health equity in the greater New Haven area.

By bringing together diverse experts from community-based organizations, local and state government, Yale-affiliated faculty and staff, and health system and hospital leadership, the Community Health Equity Accelerator (CHEA) hopes to reduce health issues that have negatively impacted certain New Haven communities.

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