It’s time to commit to ending racial inequities in healthcare

What is being done to reach Black, Brown and other people reluctant about take a coronavirus vaccine?

Racial Inequities and healthcare disparities are not new but are gaining increased and much-needed attention.

According to the Children’s Defense Fund:

● 1 in 6 children (11.9 million) were classified as poor in America in 2018. 73% of them were children of color

● 1 in 6 children (12.5 million) lived in food-insecure homes (Blacks and Hispanics are twice as likely to have food-insecure children)

● 1 in 4 children ( 18.6 million) were children of immigrants or immigrants themselves

Poverty, income and wealth equality, lack of affordable housing, food insecurity, and lack of adequate health care or health care coverage are just some of the challenges that children face; however, children and families of color are statistically overburdened.

These disparities decrease children’s chances of success. They lead to decreased child development and performance in school, thus decreasing the chance for a better, brighter life.

Dr. Erica Taylor
Dr. Erica Taylor

We as a society have to ask why these differences exist and what can we do to ease the suffering of our children. Continued research is necessary to understand the root cause of these inequities and how structured, consistently funded interventions and support can be provided.

Consistent living wages; affordable housing; job and training programs; elimination of barriers to access health coverage, and access to affordable and healthy options for nutrition are just some of the options to consider. Food programs in school were a lifeline for our families, but with summer breaks and now with virtual learning, nutrition is becoming even more scarce. Easy access to food and/or mobile food sources are just some of the programs that are seen as a success across the country.

Many families struggle to navigate the complex health systems and those that have English as their second language report that they find it almost impossible. Discrimination, exclusion, and racism have a profound impact on the health and well-being of children of color and our community should reinforce its efforts to decrease policies and structures that support it.

We as health care professionals can support these families. In addition to providing quality, comprehensive preventative care, providers should continue to have conversations on how external factors are limiting access to care. As we all start to heal from this pandemic, it is time we commit to understanding ourselves and the families that we serve. Racism, (both systemic and interpersonal), unconscious bias, lack of cultural sensitivity/competency should be recognized, with research on its effect on providing effective and equitable health care to all.

Dr. Erica Taylor, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Dayton Children’s Hospital.