We know there is an unjust and immoral economic divide in the country when it comes to health care – this article makes a good case for an obvious racial divide as well. Health care is a human right! America will not be blessed as we could be until all people have opportunity for health, care and freedom from poverty.
“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”
From USA Today:
By Melanie Eversley, USA TODAY
Clara Robertson has traveled many miles from her home in Montgomery, Ala., to walk dirt roads, knock on doors of trailers and help black women face cancer.
Robertson, 52, finds free transportation for women who can’t get to a screening or an oncologist. She hands out pamphlets. She comforts. She explains that cancer won’t care they don’t have time or money for treatment.
“In the South, it’s so different,” Robertson says. “My mom didn’t believe in going to doctors.”
As a volunteer for a program organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and theUniversity of Alabama, Robertson is a diplomat, working to erase nagging health disparities between black Americans and all other Americans.
Death rates for black Americans surpass those of Americans overall for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV and homicide, the CDC reports.
“Educationally, we’re doing better. Economically, we’re doing better, so why is it that this gap will not go away?” asks Michelle Gourdine, a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and author of the newly released Reclaiming Our Health: A Guide to African American Wellness.
Reasons for the gap, according to Gourdine and other experts:
•Poverty. Many black Americans have no health insurance and a trip to the doctor is a major expense, says Mona Fouad, of the Minority Health and Disparities Center at theUniversity of Alabama-Birmingham.
Take Renee Harris of Flomaton, Ala. The 41-year-old wife and mother has diabetes, high blood pressure and a benign breast lump doctors are watching. She has had her gallbladder removed. Harris can’t swing her share of the health insurance offered through her security job at a paper mill, especially since her husband was laid off.
“I just can’t afford it right now,” Harris says.
•Fatalistic outlook. Leandris Liburd, director of the CDC’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, says she is taken aback when she visits her hometown of Richmond, Va. “It’s not uncommon for me to come upon people I grew up with who are in their early 50s who are double amputees” and who see this as the natural course of aging, she says.
New efforts are attacking the gap. As part of last year’s health care law, the Department of Health and Human Services put forth a plan in April to better understand and find solutions to health disparities. Separately, the CDC is targeting health problems that occur more frequently in blacks, Hispanics and other minorities through a program, Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health, that steers grants to local organizations.
In Alabama, the CDC and UAB are trying to get more black women screened and treated for breast and cervical cancer.
Judy Compton holds weekly classes for women at Little Zion Tabernacle Holiness Church in rural Dixons Mills, Ala. She gives advice on transportation and on agencies that can help.
Jennifer Cole, the Lowndes County, Ala., coordinator, teaches healthy eating. She says she finds that her students have limited access to low-cost nutritional foods.
In Flint, Mich., the CDC and the Genesee County Health Department take new doctors to the poorest parts of Flint so they can see the barriers patients face.
“We forget, for instance, there are no stores in the neighborhood, and that may be why I’m not following your medical regimen for good vegetables,” says Bettina Campbell, who works with the program. “If I’m not on time for your appointment, your staff may see it as me being willfully late, but in actuality, I had to take three buses.”