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Improving Health Equity: The Middlesex-London Health Unit Strategic Direction

Here, at the Middlesex-London Health Unit, our focus is on preventing illness and injury, promoting and protecting health and improving quality of life for our diverse and ever changing community.

We work hard to identify and plan how to meet the needs of the residents of London and Middlesex County more effectively. A few years ago, we decided to ask everyone that works for the health unit, as well as our community partners and most importantly, our clients, how we could improve access to our services. 

The MLHU created a plan, based on the results of the interviews, questionnaires, forums and conversations. This plan was presented to the Board of Health and approved in 2011. It was made up of a 10 year vision statement and 3 year strategic directions. This plan outlines the Health Unit's goals and explains our strategic directions.

Through our research, we learned that MLHU has provided credible and reliable public health information, programs and services within the Middlesex-London area for many years. We also learned that the public would benefit even more from these services if we broke down barriers  to using them. We were very concerned to hear that some of the people who need our services the most are the ones who face the most barriers. We also learned that our role as leaders in the community was respected and that we could expand it by helping our community partners to increase accessibility to their programs as well. 

One of the strategic directions identified in our 10 year plan is designed to help decrease barriers and therefore improve access to our services. This will help to decrease health inequity within our community. Health inequity is a term that refers to the fact that not everyone has equal access to the Social Determinents of Health. These determinants may be different than you think. They include equal access to physical and mental health care services, but also include things like safe and affordable housing, secure employment in a healthy workplace, earning a fair wage, quality education and support from the community throughout your lifetime, as well as the effect certain genetic factors, such as sex and race, have on the way you are treated.

Health Inequity Strategic Achievement Group (SAG) 

Commitments stemming from the Health Inequity strategic direction plan included creating a Health Inequity Strategic Achievement Group (SAG) with the following goals: 

  • offer health literacy training for all staff at the health unit so that our information is better understood and used more easily
  • provide professional development about health equity for staff to improve their awareness and understanding of its importance in our work 
  • assist health unit teams to review their programs using a health equity impact assessment tool (HEIA) to make sure they identify barriers and adapt programs to serve people who are from “priority populations” and may need our programs the most 
  • Investigate the Health Unit’s role in advocating for improved health equity, locally and more broadly, and create a policy that will allow advocacy to happen as quickly and effectively as possible 
  • review of community involvement and development of ways to increase leadership for improving access to community partner programs

Accountability Strategies:

  • outcome and evaluation plan to assess whether or not we achieved our goals
  • quarterly reports to Board of Health, management and staff 
  • annual reports to community partners and the public

For more information about health equity and our success in meeting our goals, please review our Health Equity web page and consider visiting the following websites: 

 
Date of creation: March 5, 2013
Last modified on: February 6, 2015