Health Equity Priorities

A group of people standing together.


This page shares key priorities the Office of Health Equity (OHE) has set to address many of the needs to reduce the burden of disparities.

OHE works to eliminate health disparities for all individuals and keep communities healthy, safe, and connected to needed resources and services. OHE serves with a partnership-driven approach.  

OHE is committed to working for every person to have the opportunity to live a healthy life, to ensure an effective health equity strategy across the Department of Health and Human Services and the state of North Carolina, and to bring together partners from various sectors to gain collective expertise and perspectives, inform next steps, and create a shared commitment to reducing health inequities.  

As an agency, NCDHHS/OHE is working collectively to transform efforts that shift from simply listing the markers of health inequities to identifying and addressing the drivers of these inequities.


Health equity is when everyone has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible. To achieve health equity, multi-sectoral efforts are needed to address the severe and far-reaching health disparities across our state by increasing access and removing the social and economic obstacles that lead to poor health outcomes. Such barriers include lack of access to good jobs, quality education, comprehensive, high-quality health care, digital inequities, transportation, poverty, poor housing, and unsafe or unhealthy environments.  

Driven by structural racism, discrimination, stigma, and longstanding exclusion, these obstacles overwhelmingly impact communities that are historically marginalized, including but not limited to communities of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ+ community, women, children and youth, people who are incarcerated, people without homes, and those who live in rural settings.

These inequities do not just affect those groups that are hardest hit. They affect us all. The COVID-19 pandemic is the most recent and glaring example. By diminishing the economic, health, educational, and overall human potential of millions of people in this country, health inequities and disparities weaken our entire society and leave us unprepared for public health threats.

Only through a combination of strong data and science, interventions, evaluation, partnerships, policy, communication, and workforce enhancement can we achieve our vision of ensuring all people have an opportunity to live as healthy as possible.  

OHE’s Core Goals

  1. Integrate health equity principles into NCDHHS public health programs, policies, data systems, and funding structures.
  2. Mobilize and engage partners to develop and implement evidence-based strategies that address health disparities and long-standing inequities including structural and social determinants of health.
  3. Catalyze tools and processes that ensure diversity and health equity competencies, transform infrastructure, and mobilize the existing and future DHHS staff, programs, and services to eliminate health disparities.

OHE’s Priorities

Integrate health equity into the fabric of our work at all levels. Each division/office will submit health equity action plans that are being incorporated into a broad, unified agency-wide strategy. The division/office action plans should include:  

  1. Creation of goals and associated targets, concrete milestones for the next 6-12 months, indicators to monitor progress, and key partnerships. Focus on solutions for reducing health disparities, improving population health, and ensuring equity is integrated into all policies, programs, and health outcomes.  
  2. Facilitation of the implementation of policies and strategies across DHHS that promote the elimination of health disparities in communities historically marginalized.
  3. Advancement of the science and practice of health equity.
  4. Collaboration with local and state partners to promote the reduction of health inequalities.