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Promoting Health Equity In Underserved Communities

The American healthcare system is far from perfect. From the high costs of service to understaffing and insufficient resources, there are many areas that need to be addressed. One particular area of concern is health disparities among our underserved, vulnerable and marginalized populations.

Although this issue has been growing in awareness, much still needs to be done on both the individual and corporate levels to achieve health equity. Here is a brief look into what health equity means, as well as how to promote it within the communities impacted by healthcare inequality.

First, what is health equity? Essentially, this term describes a state in which all members of society are given a fair and just opportunity to reach their optimal level of health. Both historically and persisting to today, this state has been hindered by societal injustices, economic obstacles and other preventable health disparities. These health disparities refer to the inequalities experienced by populations that have been disadvantaged by their social or economic status, environment and geographic location.

These factors impact numerous populations, including individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups, people in the LGBTQIA+ community, persons with disabilities and women. Health disparities also affect those with low levels of education and income, as well as a limited proficiency in the English language. As a result, these populations generally experience decreased access to quality healthcare, as well as increased rates of mortality, morbidity and risk-taking behaviors.

What can be done to improve health equity? For individuals, it’s advised to research and learn more about the health disparities faced by those within their communities. Information is available through websites dedicated to sharing health outcomes of persons by zip code, resources from the community’s health department and other such verifiable sources. Once gained, this knowledge can be used to urge further conversations about health equity, at both the local and national level.

For providers and health professionals, one way to combat pervasive barriers to healthcare is to take on a more holistic perspective. When providers build trust and work with their patients to develop better-informed and more well-rounded treatment plans, it supports long-term outcomes. These approaches should also address ongoing concerns by recognizing an individual’s current context and any shortcomings in their support system.

At the organizational level, public establishments, faith-based organizations and private companies are encouraged to come together and create a program, policy or system of support to address the community’s needs. Having a resource with a health equity framework such as this to rely on can be constructive for those facing structural barriers to care within the community.

Promoting the health of our most vulnerable populations takes all of us. By banding together, we can help improve overall health outcomes for our neighbors, strengthen social well-being and work to build a sound, equitable future for all.

For further information on healthcare access for the marginalized and underserved, please see the accompanying resource.

Infographic created by Family Love Care, Get Paid to Take Care of Disabled Family Member




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