Harvard Professor Discusses Health Disparities in Newsweek Feature on Most Important Health Issues for 2008 Presidential Election
Although "[e]qual opportunities for good health are among the greatest benefits society can provide," research shows that blacks, Hispanics and American Indians "often do not receive these benefits," John Ayanian, a physician and a professor of medicine and health care policy at Harvard Medical School, writes in Newsweek. The piece is part of a Newsweek feature in which seven people affiliated with Harvard University identified health issues that should be addressed during the 2008 presidential race and discussed ways to tackle the issues.
According to Ayanian, racial and ethnic health disparities persist because minorities are "more likely to fall through the cracks of complex systems of care." They often are uninsured, live in poor communities and experience barriers to care, such as language and care providers' biases, he says. In addition, disparities among blacks "have deep roots in slavery and segregation," Ayanian writes.
Citing an effort to confront breast cancer disparities in Chicago, Ayanian suggests that community members and others should first understand the specific barriers minorities face in obtaining high-quality care and then develop effective partnerships to eliminate the disparities (Ayanian, Newsweek, 12/10).