Health Equity Plan
DOH-Okaloosa published the 2022-2025 Health Equity Plan (PDF 5MB) in July. This plan was developed under the guidance of the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE) in response to Chapter 2021-1700 of the Florida Statute, effective July 1, 2021. This provided resources to each county health department to create a Health Equity Plan and address health disparities in their communities. The Health Equity Plan should guide counties in their efforts to create and improve systems and opportunities to achieve optimal health for all residents, especially vulnerable populations.
Based on data, Okaloosa County prioritized life expectancy as the key health disparity in our community. The average life expectancy for Okaloosa residents is around three years shorter than other Floridians. Life expectancy also looks different for other racial and ethnic groups. This is also true for different zip codes. Some areas of Okaloosa County have higher average life expectancies than others. The areas with the lowest life expectancies include Wright and Ocean City. Residents in these areas have an average life expectancy of 74 years. This is an 8-year difference in life expectancy from other areas of the county where life expectancy is around 82 years.
The Health Equity Plan also provides data on the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH). These are the conditions and places where people live, learn, work, play and worship that affect a wide range of health and quality of life outcomes. SDOH are also called the ‘drivers of health’. They are broken out into five categories: (1) Education Access and Quality, (2) Health Care Access and Quality, (3) Economic Stability, (4) Neighborhood and Built Environment, and (5) Social and Community Context. The plan provides data for each SDOH and highlights local-level data where available. Data also focuses on the priority populations designated by OMHHE, including Black and African American, American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, Hispanic and Latino, Elderly (Ages 65+), Infants and Toddlers (0-5 Years), people living with disabilities, veterans, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and any other populations identified through research.
The final pages of the Health Equity Plan include SDOH Projects that the Department will be working on for the next three years. These projects will work to make a positive impact on the SDOH data shared in the plan. DOH-Okaloosa developed three projects: Childhood Literacy Project, Community Poverty Simulation Project, and Born Learning Trail Project.
To learn more about the Health Equity Plan please call 850-344-0662 or email MHHE.Okaloosa@flhealth.gov.
About Health Equity
What is health equity? Achieving health equity is important! According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, “we are seeing across the nation that gaps in health are large, persistent, and increase—many of them are caused by barriers set up at all levels of our society. After all, it’s hard to be healthy without access to good jobs and schools and safe, affordable homes. Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.” Achieving health equity in Okaloosa County requires us to value everyone and eliminate disparities.
We cannot take a “one-size-fits-all” approach and should instead look at individual needs. The graphic above represents this importance. A person who uses a wheelchair likely needs a ramp, not a step-stool. By addressing individual needs, everyone is able to reach an orange in the tree.
Please contact us to learn more about health equity efforts in Okaloosa County.