The COVID-19 pandemic affects us all, but it has taken an especially severe toll on Black and Hispanic state residents, magnifying inequities that have long produced worse health outcomes for people of color.
This reality has led to many policy proposals to address health inequities, as well as conversations that center on the role of racism in producing disparate health outcomes. In response, some have asked why focus on race or racism, rather than other factors, such as income, education, or geography.
As the leader of a foundation focused on health equity, I hear these questions often, and I would like to offer some answers.
First, why focus on race?
It’s important to understand that even controlling for income, education, and other factors, people of color face worse health outcomes than their white counterparts. For example, a Black woman with a college degree or higher is 1.6 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than a white woman without a high school diploma. While other factors, such as income, play a role in health, we will not achieve equitable outcomes if we do not address race.
People often assume there could be genetic differences behind these disparities. While genetics contribute to some conditions, such as sickle cell anemia, there is no genetic explanation for the racial and ethnic disparities we see in conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, infant mortality, and adverse maternal outcomes.
So what causes worse health outcomes for people of color?
There are several explanations, both within the health care system and outside of it.
Research shows that Black and Hispanic patients receive less aggressive treatment than white patients. One study found that Hispanic patients were half as likely to be given pain medication in the emergency room when they had a broken bone. Another study of pediatric patients with appendicitis found that Black children and teens were significantly less likely to be given opioids to treat pain.
Read the complete article at: CT Mirror