Health equity exists when challenges and barriers have been removed for those groups who experience greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; sexual orientation or gender identity; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.
Cultural competence is “a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or amongst professionals and enables that system, agency, or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.” 3
Culture refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the actions, beliefs, communication, customs, institutions, language and literacy (including health literacy and language proficiency), thoughts, and values held by groups while recognizing that individuals are often part of more than one cultural group.
Competence requires having the capacity to function effectively and communicate clearly and in a linguistically appropriate manner as a professional and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by individuals and communities. 4
MCH professionals exhibit cultural (including linguistic) competence through interpersonal interactions and through the design of interventions, programs, and research studies that recognize, respect, and address differences. These differences can include experiences and perspectives related to abilities (physical and mental), age, culture, education, ethnicity, gender identity, geography, historical experiences, language and literacy, profession, race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and values.