The devastating realities of health disparities are glaring and, as knowledge continues to be produced that challenges the status quo upholding these disparities as normal, it becomes harder to ignore the existence of widespread inequality both locally and globally. Disparities in health status and access to health care are continually shaped through histories of power and subjugation, privilege and despair. They manifest along lines of race and ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, and citizenship, primarily in demographics that are defined through their exclusion from the norm. Often, these forms of social exclusion function to legitimize and normalize health disparities; however, it is our goal to put an end to the social structures that prevent people from accessing high quality and comprehensive care and set in motion action and advocacy that emphasize people’s right to health.
The Health Equity Action Lab (HEAL), an initiative of The Center for Global Health Delivery at Harvard Medical School, focuses on creating programmatic solutions to these stark health disparities, both within the U.S. and in the global communities that our faculty members serve. Our plan is twofold: through engaging all stakeholders throughout the care delivery process, we seek to measurably reduce health inequalities in our local and global partner communities and advance scholarship on health equity beyond documenting disparities. HEAL creates actionable goals to overcome the sociohistorical barriers individuals face in seeking care.By upending the status quo, HEAL engages with the intuitional, social, and political factors that perpetuate inequality in our systems of care and actively resolves these issues at every level.