Health Equity

Learning | Collaboration | Community | Data



The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment’s Health Equity Practice is a dynamic collaborative that brings together DDPHE staff and their colleagues throughout the city to advance health equity as a priority in City policy, planning, services, and investments.  The Practice conducts its work through projects and programs that integrate the four key elements of learning, collaboration, community, and data. 


“Good health is a fundamental value shared by everyone who lives, works and plays in our city.  As those on the frontline of public health in Denver, the Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) has adopted health equity as a guiding principle.  Achieving health equity requires us to reduce barriers to good health, including lack of access to housing, education, economic opportunity, healthy food, good environmental quality, and mobility.  The staff of DDPHE are committed to working with our partners in city government and the community to help Denver achieve its health equity goal: a city in which everyone thrives and has opportunities to be as healthy as possible regardless of race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation, or age.”

—Bob McDonald, Executive Director and Public Health Administrator

More Information about Health Equity in Denver

How We Define Health Equity

Equity is when everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from has the opportunity to thrive.1

Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible.2

Health equity practice intentionally supports policies, delivers public services and allocates resources to advance health equity and eliminate institutional biases and barriers.

We recognize that persistent institutional biases and barriers create obstacles to health including lack of economic security, adequate housing, quality education, reliable mobility and healthy living opportunities.  As a city, we advance equity for everyone within Denver’s communities by prioritizing the needs of individuals and families in a manner that reduces or eliminates biases and barriers based on race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation, age and other factors to ensure everyone can live the healthiest possible lives.

1 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
2 Metro Denver Partnership for Health

Focusing on Health Outcomes and Health Disparities

Health is “the state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.”
        —The World Health Organization

Health outcomes influence the state of a person’s health either for good or bad.  A combination of factors produces different health outcomes.  Bad outcomes include conditions such as heart disease, asthma and obesity that reduce the quality of a person's overall health.

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Health Outcomes and Disparities Infographic (PDF)

Some groups of people experience more illness and injury than others.  These differences are called “health disparities.”  Health disparities occur in many groups.  These groups include people with different attributes such as race, age, economic status and ability.

One example of health disparity is the length of people’s lives.  This is known as “life expectancy.”  People living in adjacent Denver neighborhoods can have as much as a ten-year difference in life expectancy [Average Life Expectancy in Denver County (PDF)].

A health equity practice works to improve health outcomes and do away with health disparities.  This requires that we understand all the factors that result in outcomes and disparities. The practice works to remove barriers to good health.  It also requires that government agencies make the needs of communities that experience bad health outcomes and health disparities a priority.

For more information about health outcomes and health disparities please see the DDPHE Health Equity Presentation.

Our Mission and Roles

The Health Equity Practice works to align activities and investments, advise program-level efforts, and advocate for policies and practices across the City and County of Denver that advance the strategic goal of ensuring everyone benefits from the best possible health. 

Align: Foster collaboration among teams in DDPHE and other City departments to enhance communication and partnerships that incorporate and advance health equity.

Advise: Support and inform activities that advance health equity through information, logistics assistance, training, data, etc.

Advocate: Intercede with management and senior staff in DDPHE and other City departments, agencies and offices to support projects, programs and policies that advance health equity.  Work with staff and management in DDPHE and other departments to adopt authentic, intentional and effective community participation strategies. 

What We Do: Advancing the Key Elements of Health Equity Practice

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Increase understanding of health equity and develop a common language about health equity within DDPHE, in other departments and among other partners/stakeholders.

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Work with other divisions, departments and agencies in DDPHE and across the City to integrate health equity and advance work by providing technical assistance in program areas.

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Identify opportunities to integrate community in projects/programs that advance health equity through intentional and authentic partnerships with communities. 

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Work with City staff, external partners and community members to identify, verify and provide access to data that supports geographic focus, prioritization of services and investments, and evaluating the effectiveness of programs and policies over time.