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DHSS Press Release

Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: June 13, 2017


DOVER, DE (June 13, 2017) - Did you know that where you live, how much you earn, and your social connections may have an adverse impact on your personal health? In an effort to address and eliminate such disparities among people statewide, the Division of Public Health (DPH) will present its annual Health Equity Summit on June 29, 2017, at Delaware State University's Martin Luther King Student Center in Dover. The times are 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Health equity is the absence of systematic disparities in health (or in the major determinants of health) between social groups who have different levels of underlying social advantages and disadvantages. Health inequities are differences that are not only unnecessary and avoidable but, in addition, are considered unfair and unjust.

"One of my priorities as Secretary is to increase our conversations about the social-cultural context issues that impact everyone's health," said Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a board-certified family physician. "It is imperative that we understand the impact that social determinants have on our vulnerable, minority populations as we help develop plans of care for them. To achieve health equity and to eliminate health disparities within the fabric of Delaware's health care system, we need a multi-pronged strategy that includes a diverse workforce and attention throughout our health care system and society."

"It's vitally important that we work to make sure everyone has the same opportunities to have access to the things they need to make them healthy regardless of age, race, income, address, sexual orientation or underlying health conditions," said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. "This summit will give Delawareans the chance to become better informed and address many of the health inequities we face as a state."

The theme of this year's Summit is "Bridging Health Equity Across Communities." The summit will bring together local experts from various backgrounds addressing the importance of health, healthy neighborhoods, a progressive plan for health, and the impact of opioid and heroin abuse on our communities. It includes breakout sessions on Healthy Neighborhoods, Opioid and Heroin Abuse, Plan 4 Health and more. The summit is sponsored by the DPH Bureau of Health Equity.

Certain populations continue to lag behind others in many health outcomes. People in those populations are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy, more likely to suffer from serious illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease, and when they do get sick, are less likely to have access to quality health care. Health disparities among these populations are often linked to social, economic or environmental disadvantages, such as lack of access to good jobs, unsafe neighborhoods and lack of affordable transportation options. These conditions are known as the social determinants of health.

Partners, community representatives and individual citizens from across the state are invited to attend the summit to learn about inequities in health and how they are being addressed. A community's ability to develop public health policy solutions tailored for its needs and priorities is an essential part of achieving health equity. Policies to address health inequities are more likely to succeed when they come from and are supported by the communities they are meant to serve.

There is no cost to attend the summit. To register, visit or call Elizabeth Daniels or Karen McGloughlin at 302-744-4703. Registration closes Thursday June 22, 2017. Email or for more information.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.