The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a number of social issues to light, including health disparities in the United States. While anyone can get a virus like COVID-19, some people are more likely than others to contract the disease because of where they live and work, their income, and other factors.
Health disparities are nothing new. Many communities are at risk for a wide range of conditions because they do not have access to a healthy diet, good preventative care, or because they are dismissed by their healthcare providers.
So, what can we do? Now that more people are aware of the inequalities in healthcare, we might have a chance to create lasting change. Here are some ways you can help create a better healthier future for people within vulnerable populations.
First, Do Your Own Research on Health Disparities
If you want to create change, you need to start by doing extensive research. The more you know, the more impact you can have. Doing your own research is important because you can vet the sources and form your own opinions about what needs to change. Without proper research, you may be doing more harm than good and might find yourself providing outdated or inaccurate information.
Get an overview of the types of health disparities that exist in our society and dive into different topics from there. It's amazing just how many factors play into who gets high-quality healthcare and who doesn't. When you really start to research health disparities, you begin to realize how they connect to other societal issues as well.
Identify What Changes You'd Like to See
Once you have more in-depth knowledge about the problems caused by health disparities, you'll naturally begin to feel passionate about specific public health and inequality issues and outcomes. It's a good idea to narrow your focus so you can make the most impact, rather than trying to do too much and not accomplishing anything.
Identifying the changes you'd most like to see can happen naturally, but you also might need to think about it for a while. It's important to choose an issue that really motivates you to create change so that you don't give up and move on quickly.
Find Organizations and Advocacy Groups to Help
The good news is that you don't have to start from scratch if you want to advocate for healthcare equality. There are many excellent non-profit organizations and advocacy groups doing work to end health disparities. Do some research and reach out to organizations and groups that are doing work in your area of interest. Ask what you can do to help them achieve their goals!
It's important to choose the groups you work with carefully. Although most of these groups have good intentions, some are better than others in terms of organization and effectiveness. Choose to work with a group that gives you opportunities to make a real impact!
Help Educate Others on Causes of Health Disparities
People who don't face health disparities are often totally unaware that they exist. Or, they might not think about all the factors that go into creating health inequality in the United States. Do your part by educating them!
For example, many people aren't aware that some communities can't access healthy food or convenient transportation, leading to health disparities. Educating others on issues like food deserts is a great way to get other people on board with creating positive change. Even if they don't take action themselves, spreading awareness will help to get more people on board and voting for leaders who are dedicated to promoting equality.
Support Local, State & Federal Politicians & Causes That Advocate for Change
Legislation and policy changes are key to creating meaningful social change. In addition to individual action, we need to support leaders who are taking these issues seriously. Our representatives at the local, state, and federal levels are responsible for creating new laws and distributing funds, so we need to do our part in supporting politicians who share our values.
It's important to be persistent and positive when fighting for health equality. There's a long, bumpy road ahead, and it won't always be easy to keep going. But as more and more people become frustrated by the inequalities in our health system, we can look ahead to a future of positive change.