Center for Health Equity

“Inequities in health are unfair, unnecessary and avoidable. New York City is one of the most unequal cities in the United States and one of the most segregated. It is no surprise that these everyday realities are reflected in our health. A more deliberate effort to name and address these disparities will frame all that we do.”

- Former Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPH

Our Vision

Every New Yorker will live in a thriving neighborhood, where resources work well and systems are equitable. These conditions will nurture and sustain healthy individuals and communities across our city.

Our Mission

We will strengthen and amplify the Health Department’s work to eliminate health inequities, which are rooted in historical and contemporary injustices and discrimination, including racism.

Our Values

Racial and Social Justice
We work to undo racism and other injustices in order to advance just and fair outcomes for all New Yorkers, particularly those most marginalized.

Community Power
We prioritize the expertise and agency of communities in identifying health challenges and developing lasting solutions to those challenges.

We strive to build trust with communities, partners and colleagues through open and transparent processes that are responsive to the needs and feedback of those we work with.

Diversity and Inclusion
We honor participation, leadership and innovation arising from many sources, including life experience and identity, technical knowledge and expertise, and enduring commitment to all sectors of the community.

We use theory, research, evidence and community experiences to guide our work.

Our Four Approaches to Advance Health Equity

We support the Health Department’s internal reform in becoming a racial justice organization. By naming and addressing racism and other social, economic and environmental forces that create health inequities, we develop, implement and provide guidance on health equity training, practice and policies across the Health Department. Learn more about our Race to Justice Initiative.

We invest in key neighborhoods (place-based). A neighborhood’s health results from the historical, political, social and physical forces that affect it. Certain NYC Neighborhoods have been deprived of sufficient resources and attention. In order to “right” this injustice, we have neighborhood offices in areas that bear the highest disease burden; North and Central Brooklyn, the South Bronx, and East and Central Harlem. These are centers of planning and action for community-wide and inter-agency health initiatives.

We build partnerships that advance racial and social justice. Public health has historically been a vehicle to advance social justice. Towards this pursuit, we strategically mobilize tools, resources and networks to enhance community power and target the factors that socially determine health inequities. We coordinate action with residents, community advocates, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, businesses, schools and other City agencies.

We make injustice visible through data and storytelling. We develop communication strategies that creatively use data, elevate the stories often untold and unseen, and call attention to racism and other social injustices, as a root cause of inequities. We track and share results that are meaningful to community partners and that contribute to evidence-informed practices.

Health Equity Definition

“Health equity is attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). These disparities “adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.” (Nancy Krieger, PhD, Harvard School of Public Health)

* CDC definition, found here:

More Information

Violence is a health issue, and part of our mission is to provide oversight and support to anti-violence programs in the city. For more information about how we are trying to stop violence through a public health approach, visit Violence: A Health Issue.

For more information about the Center for Health Equity, please contact