Worse health outcomes among black residents, say physicians

In a Wednesday presentation by a panel of Physicians to state lawmakers, it was revealed that residents of Black communities faced worse health conditions due to policies that make it more difficult to receive health care and other government incentives to make living more conducive for all citizens.

The presentation was focused on the causes of health disparities among minority communities, especially Black communities. Physicians from the University of Louisville and from the Center of Health Equity with the Louisville Health Department were part of the presentation.

The presentation was put together so lawmakers could properly understand the impact of racial disparities in health and how it affects the minority communities, according to Sen. Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester). He says “this is the real issue” and “the data doesn’t lie.”

Dr. Anita Fernander, an associate professor of behavioral science, University of Kentucky, said that compared to whites black residents have worse health outcomes. As a whole, Kentucky ranks 43rd in life expectancy, with Blacks having more death rates due to poor access to health infrastructure. Hence, Blacks are more prone to die from cancer, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, etc.

According to Fernander, the origins of racial disparities dates back to hundreds of years. The early US economy was “founded on the color-coded, race-based system of slavery.” Adding that, there was no scientific research to prove that Blacks are in any way different or inferior to whites.

“Race is politically and socially constructed,” she said. For a very long time, “race” has been wrongly used to propagate social and political inequality which resulted in a disproportionate wealth opportunity channeled towards whites, Fernander added.  

The former director for the Center for Health Equity, Dr. Brandy Kelly Pryor said a 2017 report of the Louisville Health Equity found the average life expectancy in the poorest part of Louisville to be 69.9 to 71.7 years. This is in comparison to wealthy white areas where the life expectancy was 78.6 to 82.2.

In Louisville, we are looking at a history of racism,” said Pryor.

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