Monday, June 19 marks Juneteenth, commemorating the day in 1865 when the final enslaved African Americans were notified of their freedom. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, it took over two years for Union troops to arrive in Galveston Bay, Texas, to share the news. This happened near where I was born, and where my great-great-grandparents were living at the time. As I experienced growing up, the ramifications of slavery continue to echo through the generations that followed, shaping many systems and aspects of life, including health care.
At WSHA, equity is one of our core values and an important consideration in how we do our work. We seek to share accountability to cultivate diversity and promote inclusive environments and opportunities for all. Everyone should have equitable access to health care, and we also know our system today has inequities that must be addressed. Equitable care is care that does not vary in quality because of personal characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, language spoken, geographic location or socioeconomic status. We cannot truly achieve quality care without equity.
We have plentiful resources on our website to guide your work on health equity. We also have three new health equity workgroups in 2023, focusing on gender-affirming care, equity measures and data analytics, and social drivers of health. All WSHA members are welcome to join these groups. Please let me know if you’d like to know more.
This Juneteenth, we hope you will join us in reflecting on the historical importance of this day, what it means for health care and commit to action that moves us toward equity.
WSHA President & CEO