Equity is one of the central pillars of many health programmes, alongside health impact, cost-effectiveness, clinical quality and health market expansion.
Equality in health services is based on the principle that everyone has an equal right to access health services. Equity takes it one step further and addresses the fact that some groups within each society have less access to health services than others, and that steps should be taken to rectify this. Achieving equity in a health programme means successfully reaching those people that are otherwise marginalised and less able than others to access those health services. This is central to many programmes.
Often those that are least able to access health services are the poorest members of society. This is both because they cannot afford them and because they are more likely to be marginalised in other ways. They may lack political power, knowledge, and so on. What constitutes equity is dependent on the local situation and is about more than simply income level or wealth. However, reaching the poor within a society is usually the most important factor in achieving equity.