COVID-19 Pandemic Brings Out Health Inequities

-A new Roundtable emphasizes that while the coronavirus does not discriminate in its targets, a pandemic can highlight the disparities in a healthcare system and the risk for vulnerable populations. Moderated by Editor-in-Chief Ana E. Núñez, MD, the Roundtable is published in Health Equity, a peer-reviewed open access journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. Click here to read the full-text article on the Health Equity website.

Individuals living in underserved areas, typically with financial hardship, and black and brown individuals are more likely to become sick and die from the COVID-19 virus. In a panel titled “Responding to Healthcare Disparities and Challenges With Access to Care During COVID-19,” experts discussed these disparities and recommended actions needed to attain equity. One of the top priorities was to achieve fairness, defined as equal access to prevention and treatment for COVID-19. Protection and prevention were strong themes, as pandemics have a way of uncovering the widespread nature of social and health inequalities. These prevent people from protecting themselves and from leading healthy and productive lives.

A coordinated, integrated, thoughtful process to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic is lacking right now. Instead, there is a “patchwork of competition” in which each institution and individual has to make things work on their own. This lack of a robust public health infrastructure further stresses vulnerable, marginalized populations and puts them at greater risk.

The Roundtable participants discussed many other timely issues including preparedness, isolation, opioid use, and issues related to mental health. Intimate partner violence, linked to alcohol use and gun sales, was also mentioned. Of importance as well is how to confront the issue of patients dying alone in hospitals and what might be done to link these critically ill patients to their families for comfort. Furthermore, the public health infrastructure must be prepared to react to COVID-related misinformation and hoaxes, especially those spread through the digital world.

“In the face of minute by minute changes in the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to include intentional interventions with and for communities, derived from conversations with patients and their families. Now is not the time to use policies that exacerbate health disparities. This thoughtful panel discussion highlights some of these important issues,” says Health Equity Editor-in-Chief Ana E. Núñez, MD, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Professor of Medicine, Drexel University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA.

Roundtable participants included Maria Madison, ScD, Brandeis University, Renata Schiavo, PhD, Columbia University, Ronit Elk, PhD, University of Alabama at Binghamton, and Holly Prigerson, PhD, Weill Cornell Medicine.

About the Journal

Health Equity is a peer-reviewed open access journal that meets the urgent need for authoritative information about health disparities and health equity among vulnerable populations. With coverage ranging from translational research to prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of disease and illness, the Journal serves as a primary resource for organizations and individuals who serve these populations at the community, state, regional, tribal, and national levels. Complete information is available on the Health Equity website.

About the Publisher

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Population Health Management, LGBT Health, Transgender Health, and Journal of Women’s Health. Its biotechnology trade magazine, GEN (Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 90 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publisher’s website.

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.