Health equity is the fair and just opportunity for everyone to fulfill their human potential in all aspects of health and wellbeing. This overall state of wellbeing is influenced not just by access to health care, but also by systemic and unintentional bias and the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age—the social, economic and environmental drivers of health.
While history shows that global society has made tremendous strides in extending average life expectancy, marginalized communities are still more likely to experience worse health outcomes than the overall population. These health inequities are being exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, forced migration and the rising cost of living.
Achieving health equity is a complex, global challenge—one where many organizations have a role to play, including Deloitte. Over the past year, Deloitte firms have taken action by launching Deloitte Health Equity Institutes (DHEIs) in Africa, India and the US. Unified by the ambition to advance health equity to make an impact that matters, the DHEIs shape initiatives to help address the root causes of health inequity through four levers:
As an example, Deloitte leads a collaboration with the World Economic Forum to launch and expand the Global Health Equity Network—a network that mobilizes executive leaders across sectors and geographies to commit to prioritizing health equity.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also laid bare the reality of health inequities around the world, highlighting the urgent need for action.
In India, the DHEI collaborated with leaders in India’s State of Haryana (Districts of Karnal and Rohtak) to pilot “Expand the Ward,” a program to reduce the strain on hospitals by helping to provide virtual home care to those with mild to moderate COVID-19. The program mobilizes local health care practitioners and community-based workers to help provide early detection and essential care of patients in their homes.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) has been an essential tool for health care professionals fighting the pandemic throughout the world. The Africa DHEI worked with the South African government, Business for South Africa and other social organizations to mobilize resources and to help ensure the supply of PPE. To facilitate this effort, Deloitte Africa created a PPE supply chain “control tower” dashboard, providing a single view of PPE demand planning and procurement.
Such collaborations are a core element of the DHEIs’ work to improve health equity within our communities. In the US, the DHEI worked with a wide array of organizations to drive vaccination education and uptake programs, ensuring the delivery of more than 9,000 vaccinations, as well as a wide array of educational resources to more than 50,000 people.
While the pandemic is naturally a major focus, the DHEIs address many critical concerns across the spectrum of global health. The Africa DHEI is working to help reduce health disparities across the continent through health equity collaborations with key policymakers and players in the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries. Deloitte Africa has also created and used a myriad of digital data tools to help local health care practitioners identify patterns of illness and remotely track patient statistics, missed treatment opportunities and other indicators. This has enabled community and national leaders and practitioners to target and deploy resources more effectively.
In India, the DHEI is working to address the mental health burden by developing imperatives and mobilizing resources for local health care practitioners to help close the treatment gap, reduce the stigma surrounding diagnosis and treatment, and ultimately minimize the number of years individuals live in ill-health. In addition, following the successful pilot of “Expand the Ward,” that initiative is now being scaled across other primary care areas.
With a focus on identifying and reaching low-income, underserved citizens, the US DHEI developed a comprehensive health equity dashboard to help health care leaders and researchers assess the magnitude of health disparities. Powered by Deloitte US's HealthPrism™ technology, the dashboard synthesizes a range of credible big data sets to quantify relative risks for certain health conditions, like diabetes, that correlate to income, race, geography and age.
The DHEIs have advanced critical insights and understanding in their inaugural year, as well as establishing cross-sector collaborations, philanthropic investments and research activity to raise awareness and spur action. Of course, there is still much to be done. Efforts to date have laid the foundation for expanding the work of the DHEIs and realizing sustainable, long-term advancement toward health equity.
Learn more about the DHEIs.
In a year of global challenges with a deeply human impact, Deloitte sought to support and inspire our people and communities, making an impact that matters in society.
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