Health is influenced by many factors—not just whether we see a doctor or have health insurance, but also where we work and what we do for work; how much education we’ve had and how much money we make; how safe our homes are and whether we have safe places to play and get together as neighbors.
Our individual choices and decisions, alone, do not determine our health. Rather, health is the product of our histories, policies, systems, and institutions. These have created the conditions we exist in that have caused and continue to perpetuate the health disparities in Wisconsin.
We want to change that.
We work to help address health disparities and promote a culture of inclusion where Wisconsinites from all racial and ethnic identities; ages; nationalities; social and economic status; sexual orientations; gender identities or expressions; geographic locations; religious, political and ideological perspectives; and physical and mental abilities are able to live their best lives.
This means that every Wisconsinite, regardless of where they fall on the spectrum of humanity (race, gender, age, geographic location, culture, ethnicity, religious beliefs, social, and economic status), will have access to the conditions and resources they need to achieve their optimal health and wellbeing.
We work toward everyone living their best life:
The Office of Health Equity at the Department of Health Services serves to put into action Wisconsin's commitment to reducing health disparities. Our main focus is to integrate a health equity lens throughout all of DHS, both for our internal workforce, and for our external initiatives, partnerships, and policies.
Our responsibilities include:
- Providing strategic and programmatic leadership, coordination, support, and promotion on initiatives that integrate equity throughout DHS.
- Leading action on workforce diversity and inclusiveness through recruitment and retention efforts and training opportunities.
- Advancing policies that focus on promoting health equity through addressing social determinants of health and reducing health disparities.
- Engaging with our community partners through technical and financial support of promising and evidenced-based projects that improve the health of our communities.
- Strengthening our commitment to accessibility so our information is available to all users, regardless of assistive technology or devices used.
Our Programs and Partners
We'll support the Minority Health Program and work closely with the our partners as we carry out our mission.
Wisconsin Minority Health Program: This program, formed by Wis. Stat. § 250.20 in 1999, provides statewide leadership for policy measures that aim to improve the health of vulnerable populations in Wisconsin. It assures coordination of efforts intended to reduce health disparities.
Governor's Health Equity Council: This council serves to address the various factors that exacerbate health disparities by creating a comprehensive plan to achieve long-lasting and equitable health outcomes for all Wisconsinites.
The Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (HEDI) Council: A group of equity-driven members who are working to provide analysis, insights, and recommendations to DHS on internal and external policies, programs, and projects related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and affirmative action.
DHS, where equity and justice are embedded as the cornerstone of our work to serve all communities, allowing each Wisconsinite to live their best life.
To protect and promote the health and safety of all Wisconsinites, DHS commits to identifying, dismantling, and improving institutional structures that inflict and ignore racism, discrimination, and trauma among marginalized communities and centering our work around our core values.
- Acknowledge racial and social injustice.
- Understand how systemic barriers and root causes create health disparities.
- Own DHS's complicity and role in this broken system.
- Celebrate diversity and promote representation.
- Honor cultural traditions.
- Empower all voices.
- Give authority to the voices of our partners and those with lived experience, and share power with them.
- Foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and safety.
- Promote cultural humility and linguistically responsive services.
- Support transformation to address health disparities.
- Reimagine and redesign—use focused approaches to restore health to communities that have been marginalized due to their race, geographic location, ethnicity, or economic status through racist and discriminatory policies and practices.
- Celebrate, elevate, and share successes.