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As part of its draft Strategic Plan for 2022-2026, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is looking for feedback from the public.
The plan has five strategic goals for how the department will achieve its mission:
- Protect and Strengthen Equitable Access to High Quality and Affordable Health Care
- Safeguard and Improve National and Global Health Conditions and Outcomes
- Strengthen Social Well-being, Equity, and Economic Resilience
- Restore Trust and Accelerate Advancements in Science and Research for All
- Advance Strategic Management to Build Trust, Transparency, and Accountability
At Salud America!, we believe that improving healthcare by making it more accessible and culturally tailored for people of color will help build health equity.
This means increasing diversity among research leaders and clinical trial participants, eliminating implicit bias in the doctor’s office, and hiring healthcare workers who can provide culturally relevant patient care.
If you agree, you can submit our comment to HHS.
Responses will be accepted through Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021.
Submit this model comment from our Salud America! team, or tweak it and share your own:
We can strengthen social wellbeing and health equity by advocating for better healthcare for Latinos and other people of color. Increasing racial equity and diversity in healthcare will help us achieve true health equity, particularly for marginalized groups like Latinos, who suffer from disproportionate health issues due to historic systemic racism, discrimination, and implicit bias in the healthcare system.
We must take steps to address the large racial/ethnic gap in clinical trials and research. Despite making up 18.5% of the U.S. population, Latinos make up less than 10% of participants in federal cancer and drug studies. With the use of culturally tailored digital health communications, advocacy networks, and clinical partnerships, we can reach marginalized communities that are often left out of trials and research. Interpersonal training on implicit bias and establishing a support system in instances of bias and racism will help people of color feel more comfortable going to the doctor, receiving treatment, and participating in clinical trials. Additionally, hiring more healthcare workers from diverse backgrounds who can connect to patients requires increasing diversity in medical schools. This can be addressed through mentorship programs, internships, and fellowships that HHS funds with under-resourced communities, increased financial aid for students of color seeking higher education, and organizations that support students of color once in medical school.
The deadline for comments is November 7, 2021.
Hit the orange button to submit this comment!
How Diverse Clinical Trials Can Improve Health Equity
Historically and presently, Latinos are underrepresented in clinical research.
Researchers want to increase diverse participation in clinical trials to ensure that Latinos and other underrepresented populations benefit from new treatments.
“It is vital for Latinos to participate in clinical trials,” said Dr. Amelie Ramirez, leader of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. “This kind of research can go on to save the lives of countless people. But in order for that to become a reality, we need to see accurate, equitable representation in clinical trials. One way Latinos can help is by signing up to participate in a clinical trial.”
Ramirez is creating new ways to encourage Latinos to volunteer for cancer and Alzheimer’s clinical trials, with help from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.
“Latinos in clinical trials are not only helping themselves, but they are also building a future with better treatments that can help their families and communities in the future,” Ramirez said.
That’s why Emilia Asto-Flores joined a COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial – to help her broader community.
“Representation is important in a clinical trial,” Asto-Flores said. “You wouldn’t want a clinical trial to be just consisted of one group. These results need to be proportionate to our diverse communities. It’s so important for us as members of the [Latino] community to take that leadership role that could save lives.”