New Report Identifies “Root Causes” of Health Inequity


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Health inequities in the United States are a rampant problem, especially for minorities such as Latinos. The U.S. has higher rates of infant mortality and shorter life expectancies than other wealthy nations.

There are deep racial, ethnic, and socio-economic disparities that persist at the county and state levels throughout the country that impact millions of low-income and minority families. A new report looks to have gotten to the “root causes” of these inequities.

According to research from the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, factors ranging from poverty to inadequate housing to “structural racism,” and discrimination all contribute to the health inequities that burden many citizens with poor overall health and well-being.

“When our nation’s founders wrote that ‘all men are created equal’ with the right to ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ it is unlikely they envisioned a country where health status and life expectancy could be ordained by zip code, economic, or educational status,” said James Weinstein, CEO and president of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock health system in a news release. “Health inequities are a problem for us all — the burden of disparities in health adversely affects our nation’s children, business efficiency and competitiveness, economic strength, national security, standing in the world, and our national character and commitment to justice and fairness of opportunity.”

In order to reduce health disparities, it is critical to address inequities in programs, practices, and policies. Join our site, connect with others, and get involved.

Health inequities not only damage the overall health of citizens, it is also costly for the U.S. government in terms of health care expenditures, national security, business viability, and economic productivity, the report says.

A 2009 analysis found that eliminating health disparities for Latinos and other minorities for the years 2003-2006 would have “reduced direct medical care expenditures” by $229.4 billion.

“This report addresses the root causes of health inequity and lays out several specific approaches for communities to take in order to achieve health equity, which is vital to the health and well-being of the nation,” said National Academy of Medicine President Victor J. Dzau in a news release. “[We] will be working over the next several years with stakeholders from multiple sectors and regions across the U.S. to impact policy, science, and practice to improve many of the social determinants of health that are the drivers of future health of the nation.”

One recommendation to help alleviate health inequities that the plague the country are having communities – including groups of neighborhood residents, religious congregations, community-based organizations, and “others who live and work in a specific geographic location” – can be the leads in fostering change.

Read the report here.

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Expected rise in Latino cancer cases in coming years

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