GAINESVILLE, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Racism plays a large part in the prevalent health disparities that exist today. In general, black and Latino populations suffer high mortality rates. This problem is a systematic issue that must be addressed through self-reflection and awareness of the racial and socioeconomic (SE) issues that surround us. We must constantly challenge the status quo in order to tackle health disparities if we want to inspire change.
In my health disparities class in college, I learned that blacks and Latinos have some of the most discouraging statistics when it comes to quality of life. In order to understand these SE factors, one must grasp the concept of equality versus equity. Equality is a concept that generally exists today: everyone is given the chance to achieve similar goals. Equity, the root of the SE issue, deals more with the different races being given the same chance to achieve similar goals.
Blacks lack the same health equity as their white counterparts because they are more likely to be of lesser SE status. Many live in places where the cheapest and closest food they have access to is in fast food chains like Wendy’s and McDonald’s; these individuals do not have access to and cannot afford nutritious foods. To add to their struggles, the hospitals within their reach are much farther away than more urban populations.
Blink your eyes. The time it took you to do that was short, right? In a fraction of that time, racial prejudices and biases form, without a person’s knowledge. From their point of view, the individual might feel like he/she has done no wrong, but the problem still exists. Numerous studies have shown that doctors are less likely to prescribe pain medication for blacks than they are to whites. More often than not, blacks will realize when they are being discriminated in a hospital. Countless studies prove those who experience discrimination are more prone to conditions like high blood pressure, poor sleep, and thinking problems. In addition to their SE status, blacks and Latinos have to deal with bias asserted by their providers when they are in the hospital.
Change is not going to start with some lobbied legislation or a politicized policy, the change starts with us, the individuals. If we want to tackle this issue, we have to understand that it is up to our generation to inspire this change. The health equity problem has to be fixed. The best way to address this issue is to improve the quality of living, education, and health care in segregated communities. We must find stable jobs for these residents as well. If these goals are fulfilled, the systematic problem in health care that exists between minorities and their providers will gradually dissipate over time. It is up to us to lead by example in order to bridge the gap that exists in the two social class islands governed by race.
The black and Latino population is at odds with health disparities, due to facing bias and lack of health equity. As we begin to receive the baton of the previous generation, we must lead by example in order to eliminate health disparities that are caused by race.
Karthek Ramchander is a Health and Sports contributor for Florida National News. He can be reached at news@FloridaNationalNews.com