Inequalities in minorities
For the first time, UH joined in the Health Equity Week of Action, which focuses on health disparities among minorities in the United States.
Thursday’s event at the Honors College Commons was sponsored by the American Medical Students Association, which holds the Health Equity Week of Action in Harvard and Stanford.
The event hosted guest speaker Lovell Jones, the director of the Center for Research on Minority Health in the Department of Health Disparities Research at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
“The mortality rate for an African-American woman with breast cancer is four times higher than a white woman’s,” Jones said. “People who have disposable income have more access to medical technology than those without disposable income.
“One-third of Houston residents do not have health care. One-fourth of Texans do not have health insurance. That’s two and a half times the national average,” Jones said.
According to a handout given at the event put together by the makers of a documentary on health care disparities, “Unnatural Causes: Is Equality Making Us Sick,” Sweden has a child poverty rate of four percent, while the rate for the US is 22 percent.
Americans spend around $2 trillion a year in doctor visits, an amount more than twice of the average developed country, according to the handout.
Unequal income distribution is currently at its highest since the 1920s. Life expectancy in the United States is 29th in the world, followed by infant mortality at 30th place. Middle class people are twice as likely to die a premature death compared to upper class people. Low-income citizens are four times as likely to die prematurely.
According to Jones, America has many health issues because health care is not a national priority.
“Your generation will have a shorter lifespan than your parents’ generation and it could continue to get shorter,” Jones said. “Infant mortality hasn’t changed in the past 100 years. In Texas, the number one risk group for premenopausal breast cancer is African American women. The second group is Hispanic women, who are getting breast cancer at younger ages.”
Jones gave his opinions on fixing the health issues in the US.
“We have tended to look for other people to make a change,” Jones said. “No one center or one institution or profession will solve the problems we face. Do one brave thing today, then run because someone’s going to be after you.”