Equity in health

EQUINET definition of equity in health

In 1998, after reviewing many sources of policy and evidence now documented in the annotated bibliography in equity in health www.equinetafrica.org/bibl/) , EQUINET adopted a working definition of equity in health as

‘Equity in health implies addressing differences in health status that are unnecessary, avoidable and unfair. In southern Africa, these typically relate to disparities across racial groups, rural/urban status, socio-economic status, gender, age and geographical region. EQUINET is primarily concerned with equity motivated interventions that seek to allocate resources preferentially to those with the worst health status (vertical equity). EQUINET seeks to understand and influence the redistribution of social and economic resources for equity oriented interventions, EQUINET also seeks to understand and inform the power and ability people (and social groups) have to make choices over health inputs and their capacity to use these choices towards health.’

A deeper discussion of this definition and the concepts that inform it can be found in EQUINET policy papers 2, 7 and 15 on this site at www.equinetafrica.org/bibl/policy.phpand in the Reclaiming the Resources for Heath Book. Please send comments, debate, input on this definition to us at admin [at] equinetafrica.org


EQUINET work aims to shape, inform and support the development and implementation of policy measures and capacities to revitalise, build and consolidate national health systems. We aim for universal health systems  that are public sector led, equitable, people-centred and organised around comprehensive primary health care. We understand these to be health systems that are based on principles of universality, comprehensiveness and solidarity, centred on a strong state and public sector in health, organised around the active participation and involvement of communities within a democratic system and delivering on the social right to health.

Since 2010 we have developed parameters that we can use to monitor how far we are building and ensuring equity in such health systems, termed an Equity Watch. We have been monitoring these parameters at country and regional level in the country Equity Watch reports and the Regional Equity Watch. You will find these reports in the EQUINET publications on this site if you use 'equity watch' in the key words.

You can also search all publications produced by EQUINET and our annotated bibliography for documents related to Equity in Health by selecting this theme in the advanced search at http://www.equinetafrica.org/bibliography-search.html if you select this theme and tick the EQUINET publications box.