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Health Disparities



Healthdisparities is defined as the difference that brings intoconsideration disadvantages that are faced by some social groups suchas women, ethnic/racial minorities, the poor and other groups whohave faced discrimination systematically, or social disadvantageresulting is exposure to greater health risks or worse healthcarewhen compared to those social groups that are advantaged. Based onthis definition, certain racial and ethnic social groups are prone tocertain diseases, poorer healthcare outcomes and additional problemssuch as the inability to access healthcare. Most of these situationsare avoidable, but the problem is the systematic barriers towardsaccessing appropriate healthcare. The paper presents examples ofracial/ethnic groups and the healthcare related complications.

Numeroushealthcare related challenges affect different communitiesdifferently (American Cancer Society, 2007). Obesity is associated tochronic conditions such as arthritis, certain cancers, heart disease,stroke, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. Of most of theseconditions, obesity is directly liked to diabetes. In the US, thenon-Hispanic blacks reported increased diabetes conditions betweenthe periods 2004-2005 and 1988-1994 (Braveman, 2006). In addition, in2008, 31% of non-Hispanic whites were reported suffering from obesitywhile 37% of non-Hispanic black reported the problem (Flegal et al.,2010).

Toavoid the problem, it is appropriate to introduce public healthstrategies such as physical activity and healthful eating. Inaddition, clinical treatment should be employed to assist thosepatients who are already obese (Flegal et al., 2010). Therefore,improving physical and social environments through public policyapproaches such as encouraging eating vegetable and fruit in thoseareas that are underserved. Moreover, “food deserts” should beeliminated resulting in the elimination of chronic diseases e.g.diabetes hence, achieving healthcare equity among the ethnic andracial minorities (American Cancer Society, 2007).

Highblood pressure is also another healthcare issue especially to thosepatients suffering from heart failure, kidney disease, stroke andcoronary heart disease (American Cancer Society, 2007). The personssuffering from high blood pressure is different between Whites andAfrican Americans (Braveman, 2006). Forty percent more AfricanAmericans suffer high blood pressure when compared to whites.Moreover, African Americans experience severe strokes, higher ratesof strokes and chances of death because of strokes is twice morecompared to White Americans (Flegal et al., 2010).

Diabetesalso affects the elderly in ethnic and racial minorities. AfricanAmericans, on average, are twice likely to have diabetes whencompared to White Americans and also are twice likely to experiencecomplications associated with diabetes, which includes amputationswhen compared to White Americans (Braveman, 2006). In addition,American Alaska/Indians natives are twice likely to suffer fromdiabetes when taken into consideration to non-Hispanic Whites ofsimilar age. Moreover, Mexican Americans are twice likely to havediabetes when compared to Whites. Hispanics also are 1.8 times likelyto have diabetes when compared to Whites (Flegal et al., 2010).

Diabetesand cancer affects ethnic and racial minorities disproportionally(American Cancer Society, 2007). The chances of African Americans todies because of cancer compared to other ethnic groups are twice. Inaddition, 50% of African American men are likely to suffer fromprostrate cancer and have high rates of suffering from colorectalcancer when compared to other ethnic and racial minorities (Braveman,2006). Vietnamese and Latina women are twice likely to suffer fromcervical cancer when compared to White women. Moreover, thosesuffering from adult diabetes are 14% of Latinos, 15% of AfricanAmericans and 18% of Native Americans while Whites population onlyaccounts for 8% (Flegal et al., 2010). Due to limited access tohealthcare, treating these conditions is comparatively lower inracial and ethnic minorities compared to White persons.

Itis important to understand that ethnic and racial health disparitiesare not based on individual behaviors (Flegal et al., 2010). Thereason for these health disparities is social determinants thatcontributes to poorer health outcomes and hence prevalence of thecondition in some populations (Braveman, 2006). Therefore, toeliminate healthcare disparities, it is important to champion socialjustice.

Socialjustice in this perspective is defined as fair distribution ofsociety’s factors and benefits, taking responsibilities andaddressing the consequences that may occur (American Cancer Society,2007). The strategy is focusing on a social group relative to othersocial groups, identification root cause of the issue and institutestrategies to eliminate the causes (Braveman, 2006). The socialpolicies, social institutions and social system should be altered toeliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. In addition, thesystem should address and remove unequal outcomes and treatment inthe healthcare system (Flegal et al., 2010).

Inconclusion, health disparities is associated with inappropriatesocial policies rather than on individual behavior. Healthdisparities affect racial and ethnic communities and some of thehealth issues include cancer, diabetes, stroke and other similarconditions. From the analysis, the African American population andHispanics are disadvantaged when compared White Americans. Thesolution to the problems is changing social institutions, socialsystem and social policies.


AmericanCancer Society. (2007). Cancer Facts &amp Figures for AfricanAmericans 2007-2008. Atlanta:American Cancer Society.Retrieved fromhttp://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@nho/documents/document/caff2007aaacspdf2007pdf.pdf

Braveman,P. (2006). Health disparities and health equity: Concepts andmeasurement. AnnualReview Public Health,27, 167-194. Retrieved fromhttp://oied.ncsu.edu/selc/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/HEALTH-DISPARITIES-ANDHEALTH-EQUITY-Concepts-and-Measurements.pdf

Flegal,K., et al. (2010). Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults,1999-2008. Journal of the American Medical Association (&quotJAMA&quot),303(3) 235. Retrieved fromhttp://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/obesity/statistics_and_impact/docs/obesity_trends_in_adults_1999-2008.pdf