Health disparities and health inequities are differences between the health outcomes of Whites and people of color in terms of length of life, quality of life, and social well-being. In the United States, life expectancy is 79 years, and any death occurring before that age is premature. The quality of life refers to the average number of good physical days a person has yearly, and is related to social well-being, which refers to a state of complete physical and mental well-being. Studies of health disparities and health inequities explore the dynamics of the most destructive element of racial oppression in the United States — health inequity.
Why is a discussion of these issues so crucial to Black Buffalo? If disease ravages African Americans, it will cause them to spend many days feeling sick and tired. Therefore, we commit ourselves to the battle to improve health outcomes for African Americans.
Health disparities and health inequities fuse with racial and social justice, as well as human rights. The Institute defines race-based health disparities as differences in health outcomes between Blacks, and people of color, and Whites. These health differences are rooted in socioeconomic inequities between whites and people of color based on systemic structural racism. The disparities measure stresses the disproportionate race-based health outcomes between Whites and people of color, while the health equity definition stresses the injustice and oppression that undergirds these differences. The undesirable health outcomes result from the deliberate creation of neighborhood and societal conditions that lead to the social determinants that result in these adverse health outcomes. Thus, health disparities are useful for assessing the health status of Blacks and people of color, but health equity is the most appropriate term for defining the health outcome goals for those communities.
The complete picture of health is made up of all of the determinants of health. We generally focus on factors like heredity, what we eat, and how much we exercise. But the social determinants of health are a greater portion of the picture of health. These factors make up most of our health. We should care about them because they determine the quality of our education, the livability and safety of our homes and neighborhoods, and access to resources like healthy food and healthcare. In America, many of these factors are determined by race. In cities like Buffalo, these determinants manifest in disparities in health outcomes. The social determinants of health increase or decrease the number of years we live and the quality of life that we have.
Reducing the rate of health disparities on the East Side and throughout Buffalo proper is a public good that will benefit Buffalonians at every income level. The negative repercussions of health disparities go beyond just the individual and extend to their children, whole communities, and society at large. Disparities in health and healthcare not only affect the groups facing disparities, but also limit overall gains in quality of care and health for the broader population.
Knowing why and how some populations suffer disproportionate health disparities and what role the environment, safe housing, race, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic status, and access play in that suffering can prepare us to begin to alleviate such hardships. Here are reasons why improving the quality of health for our neighbors east of Main Street should matter to those who do not reside there, and why we all have a vested interest: