Global Health Equity

Health disparities exist both on a global level – with some countries unable to afford life-saving HIV treatment or even condoms – and within our nation’s health care system, where we see persistent racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in medical care and overall health.

What Others are Doing to Eliminate Health Disparities

Education may be one of the most important tools as part of an overall strategy to eliminate healthcare disparities. Healthcare providers and medical students alike should be aware that racial and ethnic disparities exist in healthcare, often despite providers’ best intentions.

Healthcare providers

Given that stereotypes, bias, and clinical uncertainty may influence clinicians’ diagnostic and treatment decisions, education may be one of the most important tools as part of an overall strategy to eliminate health disparities. Cross-cultural education programs have been developed to enhance health professionals’ awareness of how cultural and social factors influence healthcare, while providing methods to obtain, negotiate, and manage this information clinically once it is obtained.

Notable sponsors and advocacy organizations

Other organizations that have made eliminating health disparities a priority:

American Medical Association (AMA) has established policies and programs and formed partnerships in an effort to reduce health disparities.

Important reports and studies

In 1999, Congress directed the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to develop the National Healthcare Disparity Report (NHDR) and requested that AHRQ annually track “prevailing disparities in healthcare delivery as they relate to racial factors and socioeconomic factors in priority populations.” The NHDR provides a national overview of racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities in health care in the general U.S. population and among “priority populations” which include both specific population groups as well as geographically-defined groups. The NHDR includes data and analysis on the following: low-income groups; racial and ethnic minority groups; women; children; the elderly; individuals with special healthcare needs; the disabled; people in need of long-term care; people requiring end-of-life care; and place of residence (e.g., rural communities).

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