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The Importance of Equal Healthcare

Racism is a social determinant of health and access to health care—a lack of access can have a profound and long-lasting effect on children and their development. Progress has been made in terms of legislation and improvement of public health and housing programs, but there is still much work to be done to close the racial gap in healthcare access. 

The need for a healthcare system that addresses cultural and societal issues in addition to mental and physical health is imperative. The impacts of racism have been linked to psychological and physical health disparities in youth as they grow into adulthood. The JAMA Network published a 2020 study that explored the differences and how they affect children. The socio-economic imbalance in America causes stress and anxiety for a large portion of the population, and this same population often lacks access to proper and convenient healthcare. Stress during pregnancy, infancy, and other critical periods of development can lead to mental health issues and more later in life. 

The impact of racism during childhood may not physically present itself right away. For example, minority groups such as the Black and Latinx populations consistently lack access to affordable and safe housing. Often, the housing these families can afford may not be in safe or healthy locations. Families who experience hardships in gaining access to care—whether that’s primary or specialized care—are more likely to have children who experience behavioral distress later in life. 

How do we close this gap? There are many avenues that families and community members can take to improve access to healthcare for everyone. Freeclinics.com has a list of affordable and accessible healthcare options by state. Become familiar with the legislature and local community government. You can directly advocate for all communities in your area and reach out directly to institutions asking them to help break down the barriers to access. Aren’t familiar with your legislature? OpenStates has you covered. 

Everyone deserves access to quality healthcare, and many do not have that. We know many of those communities are communities of color, and it’s unacceptable. Not only does proper healthcare improve your community in the present moment, but it sets you up for long-term success, and the generational impact is indisputable.