The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) today released a documentary video series titled “Communities Driving Health Equity” to spotlight local organizations across the U.S. advancing health equity for their communities by addressing the environmental, social, economic, and structural challenges that may impact residents’ health. The videos show that, while challenges are numerous, progress is possible when community members, organizations, funders, and policymakers work together to drive local-level solutions that improve health equity and well-being for all.
The three communities featured in the series include:
- People United for Sustainable Housing Buffalo (PUSH Buffalo), a local membership-based community organization fighting to make affordable housing a reality in West Buffalo, NY.
- Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN), now Faith in Indiana, a catalyst for marginalized peoples and faith communities to act collectively for racial and economic equity throughout the state of Indiana.
- Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services (KKV), a federally-qualified health center in Honolulu, HI that works to foster health in the broadest sense—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Our nation’s health depends largely on the health and well-being of its communities, but many of them don’t have adequate access to jobs, safe and affordable housing, health care, green space, healthy food options, and other things they need to thrive. While biology, genetics, and individual behaviors play a role in people’s health, the socially-driven conditions in which one lives—often referred to as “social determinants of health”—influence and limit individuals’ choices. By taking on these health-limiting factors and developing solutions with partners, communities can help empower residents to grasp their full health potential.
“The NAM is proud to present the stories of these three diverse communities that face complex, pervasive challenges but are all making progress in advancing health equity,” said Charlee Alexander, NAM program officer. “While each community needs to develop an approach suited to its own unique needs, our hope is that in sharing these stories, communities facing similar challenges might be inspired and informed to build solutions that are right for them.”
This documentary series is a part of the NAM’s Culture of Health Program, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which focuses on health equity—meaning everyone has the same shot at living a healthy life. A 2017 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity, profiled the three organizations in this documentary series as well as additional communities and identified some of the principles they used to make progress advancing health equity. Increasing community capacity to shape outcomes, making health equity a shared vision and value, and fostering multi-sector collaboration are cross-cutting themes within the work of these communities that have helped guide them to success.
To view the video series, please visit: nam.edu/DrivingHealthEquity
To read the Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity report, please visit: nam.edu/communities-in-action
To learn more about the NAM Culture of Health program, please visit nam.edu/CultureOfHealth