Health and Health Care Disparities
The presence of health and health care disparities across dimensions on gender, sexual orientation, location, disability status, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or race, among others, is a shame to communities today. At these modern times, there should be no cases where some groups receive less or lower quality health care than others. It is not a surprise to find one population group experiencing a higher burden of injury, illness, disability or mortality relative to another. It pains to find differences between groups in access to and use of care, quality of care, and health insurance coverage. Health care and health disparities are differences that cannot be blamed to variations in the requirements of health care, preferences for patients or treatment recommendations. Rather, health inequity and health inequality are socially determined differences that are unnecessary, unjust and avoidable (Kronenfeld, 2016).
A complex interrelated set of individual,health system, provider, environmental and societal factors contribute to disparities in health care and health. Individual factors encompass a variety of health behaviours including maintaining a healthy weight and following medical advice. Issues such as linguistic and cultural barriers to patient-provider communication are examples of provider factors. Environmental and social factors, such as education, neighbourhood safety, proximity to care, and poverty also shape disparities; also how health care is delivered, financed and organised.
Health care and health disparities are best seen through the lens of ethnicity and race, though they occur across all the dimensions. Disparities occur across a range of characteristics of sexual identity, gender, language, age, and socio-economic status. There should be a focus on designated priority populations particularly on groups venerable to health care and health disparities. Such groups include people living in inner-city and rural areas, people with special health care needs, older adults, children, women, and low-income groups.
It is worth for everyone to note that disparities in health services affects both the marginalised groups and also limits the overall improvement in the quality of health facilities and health for the whole population (Harvey, 2016). Therefore, addressing disparities in health care and health is both important from a social justice standpoint and also for improving the health of the whole population through improvements in overall population health and quality of care. The population is becoming increasingly heterogeneous with the increase in people of colour. Not only that, the gaps between the rich households and middle-income and poor are growing wider every day.
Success in reducing disparities in health care can best be achieved through teamwork between the community and the government. Such measures may include coordinating policy and programmatic efforts to advance health equity, strengthening the health care workforce and infrastructure, and expanding access to quality of care. People should receive care services in a linguistically and culturally appropriate manner. Other disparity reduction efforts that need immediate implementation include promotion of workforce diversity and cultural competence, cultural competence education and training, and prevention and public health initiatives. Additionally, more research on health care disparities needs to be funded.
Harvey, V. L. (2016). Health cares disparities and the LGBT population. Place of publication not identified: Lexington Books.
Kronenfeld, J. J. (2016). Special social groups, social factors and disparities in health and health care. S.l.: Emerald Group Publishing.