April is National Minority Health Month, a time to think about the disparities in U.S. healthcare and health outcomes — and to take action against those inequities.
Health outcomes are different for kids from different ethnic groups
Here are some eye-opening statistics:
- Infant mortality rates in Arkansas are different in different ethnic groups. Black children’s mortality rate is 11 in 1,000 live births, compared to 5.2 for Hispanics, 6.6 for whites, and 7.3 for Asian or Pacific Islanders.
- Nationally, 16 % of Native American and 7.7 percent of Hispanic children were uninsured compared with 4.1 percent of non-Hispanic white, 4.0 percent of non-Hispanic Black, and 3.8 percent of non-Hispanic Asian children.
- Black children have a 500% higher death rate from asthma than white children.
- Black children are 23 times more likely to have HIV than white, non-Hispanic children.
- A recent CDC report found that Hispanic children were hospitalized for coronavirus at a rate of 16.4 per 100,000 children, Black children at 10.5 per 100,000, and white children at a rate of 2.1 per 100,000.
Causes of inequities
The disparities in health outcomes for kids from different ethnic communities start when they’re not even born yet. Black mothers are less likely to receive prenatal care than white mothers, and start receiving care later in their pregnancies, on average. In Arkansas, they are more likely than white mothers to have premature and low birth weight babies.
Health is affected by where people live, too. Access to healthy food, safe spaces for exercise, and clean air and water can be better in more affluent neighborhoods, and race is correlated with socioeconomic status in the United States.
Access to healthcare can also be affected by race. Availability of health care can be higher in some neighborhoods than others just because of the number of doctors practicing in one place compared with another. Different groups also have different rates of insurance coverage.
As with all national health observances, National Minority Health Month is an effort to raise awareness of the problems. Making people aware of problems is the first step toward solving those problems.
Increasing access to health insurance, working in communities to improve health literacy, and increasing outreach to diverse communities are some important steps toward eliminating health inequities.