New Report Provides Recommendations for Improving Health Equity for Racial, Ethnic, and Tribal Populations

Posted on August 1, 2023 by Rear Admiral Felicia Collins, MD, MPH, FAAP, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Office of Minority Health Director

Racial and ethnic minority populations and tribal communities often face preventable differences, or inequities, in their health due to structural disadvantages and diminished opportunities in health care, education, social context, economic stability, and the environment. These five areas are called the social determinants of health (SDOH), and they have a major impact on people’s health and well-being.

In a new report, “Federal Policy to Advance Racial, Ethnic, and Tribal Health Equity,” the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (National Academies) analyzes how past and current federal policies create, maintain, and/or amplify racial, ethnic, and tribal health inequities.

This report is in response to a task by Congress which was included in the Joint Explanatory Statement to the Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations Law.

In 2022, HHS OMH tasked National Academies with assembling an interdisciplinary committee of experts to:

  1. focus on federal policies that contribute to preventable and unfair differences in health status and outcomes experienced by racial and ethnic minority and American Indian and Alaska Native populations in the United States, and
  2. provide conclusions and recommendations that identify the most effective or promising approaches to policy change with the goal of furthering racial, ethnic, and tribal health equity (including both promising and evidence-based solutions).

After 13 months of analysis and deliberation by the National Academies, the HHS OMH is pleased to receive the report, and we look forward to working with our Federal partners to consider how we can apply the findings and to advance racial, ethnic, and tribal health equity.

The report outlines 36 conclusions in the five SDOH areas and 13 policy recommendations directed towards the Federal government’s legislative and executive branches to advance health equity. The report also provides a conceptual framework that recognizes how the inequitable impact of negative social determinants of health perpetuates racial, ethnic, and tribal health disparities.

It is our desire that the National Academies report will serve as a road map for a whole-of-government approach to eliminate health disparities through structural and system changes that address systemic barriers and improve the health and well-being for all racially and ethnically minoritized populations in the United States.

The HHS Office of Minority Health is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority and American Indian and Alaska Native populations through the development of health policies and programs that help eliminate health disparities.

Agency’s note: The findings and conclusions reached in the National Academies report are those of the authors, who are responsible for its content, and do not necessarily represent the views of HHS OMH. No statement in this report should be construed as an official position of HHS OMH or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.