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Commentary: Why so many black Americans are dying from COVID-19 and how to make health care equitable (sandiegouniontribune.com)

 

Evidence suggests that during the early phase of the coronavirus pandemic, blacks are suffering the greatest death rates compared to all other ethnic groups. Why? I can assure you that the coronavirus does not discriminate based upon skin color or ethnicity. Instead, it has a predilection for populations with the highest rates of chronic diseases, poor access to health care and too little information from trusted sources.

For decades, the National Medical Association β€” which represents more than 40,000 black physicians in the United States β€” has been sounding the alarm that blacks are vulnerable to any disruption in the U.S. health-care system. Compared to all other ethnicities, blacks have higher rates of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, obesity, racialized poverty and poor health-care access. This places the population at greater risk of death during a major environmental catastrophe such as was seen with Hurricane Katrina with the disproportionate deaths of black citizens.

For us to reverse health disparities, we must address the root causes and implement strategies that incorporate what is called the equity principle. That’s the distribution of resources based upon need rather than equal distributions. To achieve equity, we must distribute our limited health resources focused on the populations with the greatest health and social needs. I believe we can attain this goal with national and local coronavirus intervention teams led by trusted community messengers who advise and educate people about specific intervention strategies for vulnerable communities.

To read more of Dr. Rodney G. Hood's article, please click here.

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