Disparities in the Healthcare System
In 1985, there was a landmark investigation that was named the Malone-Heckler Report. In this report, the US Health and Human Services Secretary did a study on the quality of healthcare received by black participants and healthcare received by white participants. The report showed that black individuals had received poorer outcomes and had more negative health outcomes when compared to their white counterparts. Even though the information that was studied in this report was well known in black communities, the academics who carried out this report were sadly surprised. Unfortunately, the Heckler-Malone report was not followed up upon until 2003.
The United States of America is known for having an abundance of healthcare facilities, innovative technology, and it is the world’s leader when it comes to pharmaceuticals. In spite of that, Black Americans are still suffering the consequences of disparities in the healthcare system. These disparities cause them to suffer and die from illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer at rates much higher than their white counterparts.
#1 Diseases of the Heart
Angina is the number one killer of Americans in general, but this killer has gone down in the white American population for the last 40 years. Unfortunately, statistics show that the disease has not had such a decrease in black communities. Black Americans who are between the ages of 18 to 50 are two times more likely to suffer and die from diseases of the heart than their white counterparts. At the same time, the positive news is that Black Americans have seen a decrease in the amount of deaths from angina over the last decade. The American College of Cardiology and the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation did extensive research on disparities in cardiovascular care. Their investigation found that blacks are less likely than whites to receive diagnostic care and cardiac procedures. These life-saving procedures include catheterization and coronary artery surgery.
#2 Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is unfortunately common in the black community. One out of three black Americans suffer from high blood pressure. Without sufficient access to care, it is impossible to treat high blood pressure since it is a disease that can be symptomless. Apart from that, blacks developed high blood pressure at ages far younger than their white counterparts. High blood pressure is a huge risk factor when it comes to heart disease, and blacks are 40% more likely to have high blood pressure than whites. Unfortunately, the numbers are worse for black women. Black women are 60% more likely to develop high blood pressure than whites. Black Americans do well to regularly check on their high blood pressure and health concerns.
Carcinoma is the second most deadly disease for all Americans, but black men are 50% more likely to develop carcinoma of the lungs than white men. Apart from that, black men have higher rates of carcinoma of the prostate, and they also die more from carcinoma than other races. Black women under the age of 35 are two times more likely to develop carcinoma of the breast than white women. Early prevention is the best line of defense when it comes to carcinoma treatment. Unfortunately, inadequate access to care leads to sad outcomes in the black community when it comes to carcinoma.
Diabetes is a huge problem in the black communities of America. Black Americans are 60% more likely to develop diabetes than white Americans. Apart from that, the complications of diabetes are more likely to be serious. These complications can include kidney failure and limb amputation. Obesity and high blood pressure are two of the main risk factors when it comes to diabetes, and diabetes also contributes to a person’s risk of developing heart disease.
Strokes have the most detrimental impact on black Americans; unfortunately, strokes occur to African-Americans at a younger age as well. Blacks are twice as likely to die from a stroke when compared to whites, and they are more likely to become severely impaired after experiencing a stroke. A stroke is closely related to diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, so when a person suffers from one or more of these diseases, they have the perfect conditions for a stroke. The good news is that the death rate for African-Americans over the age of 65 has decreased more than 40% since 1999.
Why Such a Gap?
When it comes to the disparities between the quality of healthcare that blacks and whites receive, there are a number of reasons why they still persist. Some of the main reasons are the following: socioeconomic influences, cultural influences, prejudice, stereotyping, racial disparities in clinical decisions, and lack of sufficient investigation. Even though the gap in healthcare disparities have been declining at a snail’s pace, the American medical system has made great strides to improve its healthcare system. Black Americans must make the choice to take their health into their own hands. This means that they must be determined to prevent diseases. Apart from that, they do well to work with physicians who are compassionate and willing to not only listen but to take definitive steps to improve their health.
Why Prevention is Important
The statistics are heartbreaking looking at the huge disparities in healthcare in the United States, but black people do have an obligation to take control of their own health and health concerns. Even though economic disparities may make it difficult, there are still healthy choices for each and every black individual when it comes to healthcare. Lifestyle is the main culprit in the majority of the diseases mentioned above. By making a dedication to healthy living, eating and stress management, black individuals can do wonders when it comes to their health. Simple changes in diet such as including more fruits and vegetables and limiting salts, fats, sugars and additives can greatly decrease cardiovascular issues. Apart from that, living an active lifestyle in which exercise and movement are emphasized is essential.
Working Towards Solutions in 2021
Since the individuals who lose out the most in the healthcare system are people of color, it stands to reason that black Americans would want to receive care from black physicians who will treat them with impartiality. When individuals work with black physicians about their health concerns who share their racial group, they are able to see a direct reflection of themselves in their healthcare providers. Black patients no longer have to be preoccupied by emotional and mental trauma that can be exemplified by explicit and implicit bias. A lack of diversity in the healthcare system can be directly traced to a negative impact on patients of color. Connect2heal.com is a platform that is on a mission to change the lack of diversity in the healthcare system. This platform allows black, indigenous and other people of color to have the opportunity to contact qualified healthcare providers who share their same heritage and background. In this way, the wide gap of disparity in healthcare can truly be closed.