Ahead in 2022: Health Equity and Chronic Diseases in the Spotlight
As I sat down to write my year-end column for 2021, I was struck by how much had changed over the course of the year…and how much remains the same.
Thanks to the efforts of brilliant scientists, dedicated clinicians and determined citizens, we now have readily available vaccines (and boosters) that can help many of us avoid the most serious consequences of a COVID-19 infection. We started going back to work. Back to school. Back to the social engagements with friends and family that give us something to look forward to and help us maintain positive mental health during times of struggle.
Yet as the new year begins, COVID persists, in the form of new variants, seasonal surges and spread through individuals and communities that are not taking the precautions recommended by health experts. Some of those experts believe that COVID will always be with us in some form – hopefully manageable – just as colds and the seasonal flu are. An annual booster shot seems a small price to pay for a healthier future for ourselves, our loved ones and our entire planet.
In addition to changing the way in which we see our future, the COVID pandemic has served to cast a light on a harsh reality in American health care: racial and ethnic disparities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), racial and ethnic minorities are at higher risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19 than other populations. Moreover, their social determinants of health – discrimination; health care access and use; occupation; education, income and wealth gaps; and housing – affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes.
This year, Real World Health Care (RWHC) will publish a series of articles that we hope will provide some insights into the very complicated issue of racial and ethnic health disparities. We know such disparities can have a significant impact on how those who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) manage chronic diseases, and we plan to share information on the programs and organizations that seek to reduce those disparities and improve health outcomes.
As part of our dedication to serving patient communities, we also will highlight organizations and programs serving those with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease – chronic illnesses that don’t take time off during a pandemic.
At HealthWell, we are proud of RWHC. Since 2013, our blog has brought you compelling content on health care issues facing Americans. From features on the people, programs and products changing the way health care is delivered, to interviews with leading researchers and clinicians, to profiles of patient advocacy organizations, RWHC has provided valuable insights and information to those interested in both the current state and future of health care.
I invite you to follow RWHC throughout 2022. Click the Sign-Up button on the right side of this page to be notified when new posts publish. You can also follow us on Twitter @RWHCblog.
If you are working with an organization that supports patient communities, please let us know. We would be delighted to share your story with our subscribers. Contact us today.