Virginia launches nation’s first statewide health equity dashboards

Virginia launches nation’s first statewide health equity dashboards
Governor Ralph Northam [FILE] (Source: Jack Mayer | Office of Governor Northam)

RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ/Governor’s Office Release) - The commonwealth of Virginia has unveiled what Governor Ralph Northam says is the nation’s first public statewide health equity dashboards, providing a snapshot of the state’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, making key data more accessible to Virginia residents.

“The pandemic has placed a spotlight on longstanding health inequities and the harm caused by structural racism,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia continues to embed equity into every part of our COVID-19 response and recovery and while we have made great strides, there is still important work to be done. These dashboards will bring additional visibility to our most pressing challenges, allowing the Commonwealth to better serve vulnerable populations and ensure the equitable distribution of resources.”

The two dashboards ...Equity in Action and Equity at a Glance... were created by the Virginia Health Equity Leadership Taskforce (ELT) in partnership with several state agencies. The dashboards are being launched in response to two pieces of legislation: House Joint Resolution 537, which declares racism a public health crisis in the Commonwealth, and Virginia Code Section 2.2-435.12, which requires Virginia’s Chief Diversity Officer to conduct statewide equity assessments.

“Our equity dashboards serve as a national exemplar for increasing transparency and making data more accessible,” said Dr. Janice Underwood, Virginia’s Chief Diversity Officer. “The launch of these two dashboards reinforces Virginia’s leadership position, highlights the equity work being done across the Commonwealth, and serves as a call to action in closing gaps and improving the health and well-being of all Virginians.”

The Equity-in-Action dashboard is designed to be a snapshot of the progress Virginia has made across its COVID-19 response and recovery and other initiatives, said Northam, that advance the equitable distribution of resources and services. The Equity-at-a-Glance dashboard is designed to be “a transparent assessment of social determinants of health and other factors contributing to health equity.” Future versions of these dashboards will include an expanded set of topic areas, such as workforce diversity and criminal justice.

“These dashboards enable the Virginia Department of Health and other leaders to get the information we need to confront inequity across social determinants of health,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “Public health officials, community leaders, and policy makers can use these resources now as we work to recover from the COVID-19 public health crisis and beyond.”

“This interagency project shows us how data can be used to measure Virginia’s standing in many areas including COVID resources, health care, unemployment, education, food access, and broadband across 133 localities,” said Chief Data Officer Carlos Rivero. “This is a best practice in data sharing and sets a positive precedent for increased collaboration across state agencies.”

An overview of the dashboards and underlying data can be found at governor.virginia.gov/diversity/equity-dashboards/overview.

To learn more about the Health Equity Working Group, click governor.virginia.gov/diversity.

For more information about the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, visit governor.virginia.gov/diversity.

Copyright 2021 WDBJ. All rights reserved.