Introduction : United States, leads the word in health care expenditures, and has one of the finest healthcare services and facilities in the world. But millions of people in U.S, do not have access to quality healthcare services. There is a notable difference in the quality of care received by the people in U.S. In spite of living in the same country, there are differences in the access to preventive and curative healthcare services. There are also differences in the opportunity to avail healthcare services, in the risk of exposure to diseases and in the prevalence of diseases burden. While certain section of the population receives one of the finest quality healthcare services, another section of population is denied access to quality care. A number of factors are responsible for the differences that exist in the healthcare structure. (Kim, 2013)
The incidence of diseases and poor clinical services are high among minorities as they are marginalized and segregated in areas where there is poor access to health services. Disparity is observed at the level of clinical presentation, severity of diseases and clinical morbidities. Often people from disadvantaged communities, seek medical help, only when the diseases goes out of control. Identifying and treating diseases at an initial stage, could have prevented disability and mortality. (Kim, 2013)
The unequal distribution that exist in the distribution of disease burden, disability and premature deaths, in a population, are the result of disparity that exist in healthcare system. Unequal distribution of public hospitals, private hospitals and teaching centers, are found across the health care setting. The inequality that exist in the environment and availability of resources are the primary causes of healthcare disparity. An example of environmental inequality, is the high density of factories and production units in southeastern Houston, that expose people in this locality to high level of pollutants and toxins that are detrimental to health. People who live farther away from the production units have lower exposure to industrial toxin. (Wong & Karaca, 2016)
The disparity in healthcare can also be defined in terms of geographic distribution, age, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, race and ethnicity. In most instances, the differences in socio-economic factors correlate with differences in race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. The lack of resources, decreased access to health care facilities, inability to gain insurance and lack of ability to pay for healthcare facilities, act as barriers that prevent people from availing healthcare services. In addition to these common factors; culture and language can also inhibit a few from accessing healthcare. People from certain culture prefer care takers from similar background. This is often not met, as personnel from minority background are underrepresented in the healthcare workforce. Language difference and difficulties in communication, deter some from accessing health services. (Wong & Karaca, 2013)
The socio-economic factors that causes health disparity, originates from the inequality and discrimination in education and employment, that prevails in the society. People belonging to low socio-economic status face marginalization and discrimination. People from areas that have higher level of poverty have higher incidence of infectious and noninfectious diseases, and higher mortality rate. Mental problems and diseases are also high in this population. The segregation and marginalization of people in poverty, negatively affects their health. (Yamada,Chen, Naddeo & Harris, 2015)
The Bronx Minority Health Week Campaign:
The disparity that exists in health and healthcare services can be confronted and eliminated by drawing public attention and awareness to the problem. The Bronx Minority Health week is one such effort to create awareness. This campaign will educate people of their rights to quality healthcare. Disturbing factors like biases, prejudices and racial stereotypes, mislead healthcare personnel from providing care to the minorities in the community. The social campaign will act as a platform for healthcare personal to overcome their personal inhibitions as well an opportunity to impart trust in the minorities. Policy makers, teachers, researchers, practitioners and members of the community need to work in co-ordination, to eliminate inequality and ensure that all section of the community have access to the healthcare they need.
The campaign will prevent healthcare disparity by identifying and accessing the factors that determine healthcare disparity. This will enable developing plans to eliminate the sources that give rise to these determining factors. The efforts taken in the campaign will act as primary steps in the prevention of health care disparity. Developing healthcare networks that will enable access to quality care to the disadvantaged communities, would be the next important step. The efforts to prevent health care disparity are multidimensional.
Healthcare equity, is the term that is used to define the assurance of optimal healthcare conditions for all people. To achieve health equity, it is necessary to restructure and develop a health care and social systems that values all individuals equally. Injustices that exist in the society, in the name of race, gender, ethnicity, social class, labor roles, nationality, language, sexual orientation, disability, geography, and religion; has to be recognized and rectified. Access to healthcare resources are to be provided according to needs. Social and economic factors of healthcare disparity were identified as factors that cause wastage of healthcare resources.
The empirical evidence for the Bronx Minority Health Week campaign is provided by the H.Res 238 bill passed in the house of representatives. The billed identified a heath disparity among the minorities: American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Hawaiians. According to the research findings, the incidence of diabetes, kidney failure, liver cirrhosis, cancer, stroke, HIV/AIDS, mental disorders, accidents and suicides are highest in the minority population. The inequality in the environment and access to healthcare, increases the risk of minorities to these diseases. The minorities are more likely to receive poor quality care. Language differences, lack of insurance, culture and lack of ability to pay, discourages people from the minority group to seek health aid. The Affordable Care act of the governments, will help the minorities in overcoming these barriers and to seek help. Nevertheless, many in the minority are ignorant about the new health reforms and its benefits. The Bronx Minority Health Week Campaign, will inform the minorities of their right to a healthcare that is sensitive to their culture and sentiments. (H.Res. 238, 2015)
A change in the inequality that prevails in the healthcare system, can be brought about, only by the contribution of members in the community, and through their partnership with healthcare programs. A healthy community can be created only if healthcare personnel are willing to acts as models of ideal behavior that can end disparity in the community. The responsibility to end disparity lies with every citizen in this country. The Bronx Minority Health week campaign is an opportunity to help end disparity. The social evil of discrimination lie at the root cause of denying opportunities to people, based on their race, belief, language, culture and other differences. This needs to be challenged by each individual at a personal level, and also by law enforcing departments at a national level. Identifying the reason for gap in the education among minorities and encouraging them to continue education can help solve the issue of underrepresentation of the minorities in the work force. (Health Disparities, 2016)
While factors like financing, structure of healthcare, culture and linguistic barriers, existing at the level of healthcare, promotes disparity: factors like preferences, refusal of treatment, poor adherence to clinical protocol, and biological differences are identified as patient level factors that promote disparity in the population. A previous uncomfortable clinical encounter also inhibits patients from seeking medical help. (Health Disparities, 2016)
A quality healthcare is marked by six key elements: safe, timely, effective, efficient, patient centered, and equitable care. Efforts to eliminate disparity and provide quality care to all people must ensure that all these six elements are met by the care providers. Minorities have low access to healthcare facilities. Various factors determine low accessibility. One of the key factor being lack of awareness about the government reforms and healthcare restructuring, that will provide them with an equal opportunity to avail healthcare services. The aim of the Bronx Health Week campaign is to create awareness and help the minorities to receive safe and timely access to care. Many in the minority group, lack awareness about the new government reforms that will pay for their health needs. This campaign will help inform the minorities about this and other health care developments. Reaching out to the minorities and creating awareness, will motivate them to demand quality healthcare.
Health Disparities,. (2016). MedlinePlus. Retrieved 17 January 2016, from http://nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/healthdisparities.html
H.Res. 238. (2015) Bill passed by the house of representatives, Authenticated U.S Contentment Information.
Kim, H. (2013). Health Disparity and Health Welfare among Children from Low-Income Families. Child Health Nurs Res, 19(4), 247. http://dx.doi.org/10.4094/chnr.2013.19.4.247
Wong, H., & Karaca, Z. (2013). Racial Disparity in Hospital Inpatient Cost: Homeless Versus Non-Homeless Patients. Value in Health, 16(3), A256. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jval.2013.03.1311
Yaada, T., Chen, C., Naddeo, J., & Harris, J. (2015). Changing Healthcare Policies: Implications for Income, Education, and Health Disparity. Frontiers In Public Health, 3. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2015.00195