Exploring Health Equity at Regional Training

Last month Stacy, Kira and I travelled to our latest Regional Training, which was held on the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa, Syilx and Sinixt First Nations in Nelson. The Circle of Indigenous Nations Society (COINS) provided the territorial acknowledgment to ground us as we began.

For much of the two days the program focused on health equity. While many of us consciously work with awareness of the social determinants of health in our organizations, health equity goes deeper to the root of why some people may have better health than others. Where the social determinants of health look at an individual or group’s circumstances, health equity looks at the underlying causes that lead to the determinants for an individual or group.

The World Health Organization defines health equity this way:

“Health equity” or “equity in health” implies that ideally everyone should have a fair opportunity to attain their full health potential and that no one should be disadvantaged from achieving this potential.

That “fair opportunity” is the thing to look at. We can say poverty is a social determinant of health, because not having the money to pay for bus fare to get to healthcare appointments and suffering ill health as a result can affect one’s health overall. A health equity discussion would look at why poverty is an issue for people and ask whether the reasons are grounded in policies, laws, or practices that put some people at better advantage than others.

Dr. Sana Shahram showed examples of how health inequity influences health services, and led a discussion on the second day of the training to look at health equity in the context of the ongoing overdose crisis.

The program also featured presentations by Harlan Pruden, who works with Chee Mamuk, an Indigenous program focused on HIV, STI and hepatitis C that is based out of the BC Centre for Disease Control. He presented Two-Spirit Reconciliation: Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future. Harlan’s dynamic, and at times humorous, presentation was a perfect way to lay the foundation for the discussion on health equity.

Cheryl Dowden, Executive Director of ANKORS rounded out the program with preliminary results from the ANKORS Harm Reduction Needs Assessment. Cheryl and the research team will be digging deeper into their research over the summer, and I’m happy to say she will be presenting this in a webinar in September.

As is usually the case, this Regional Trainings was a great opportunity to connect with people and learn about specifics in their home towns. Many thanks to our partner, Interior Health (and especially Jennifer Driscoll and Jessica Bridgeman at IH), and to everyone who traveled to Nelson for the event. Our next Regional Training will be on Vancouver Island in the late fall.


Learn more about the Training and Leadership work at Pacific AIDS Network


Questions? Feedback? Get in touch! Janet Madsen, Capacity Building  and Knowledge Translation Coordinator, [email protected]





We greatly appreciate the vision of our government funders and their ongoing commitment to supporting the work of the Pacific AIDS Network. In particular we gratefully acknowledge the Public Health Agency of Canada – HIV and Hepatitis C Community Action Fund. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.