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Harvard Professor Discusses Health Disparities

Armen Hareyan's picture

Although"[e]qual opportunities for good health are among the greatest benefitssociety can provide," research shows that blacks, Hispanics and AmericanIndians "often do not receive these benefits," John Ayanian, aphysician and a professor of medicine and health care policy at Harvard Medical School, writes in Newsweek.The piece is part of a Newsweek feature in which seven people affiliatedwith Harvard University identified health issues that should beaddressed during the 2008 presidential race and discussed ways to tackle theissues.

According to Ayanian, racial and ethnic health disparities persist becauseminorities are "more likely to fall through the cracks of complex systemsof care." They often are uninsured, live in poor communities andexperience barriers to care, such as language and care providers' biases, hesays. In addition, disparities among blacks "have deep roots in slaveryand segregation," Ayanian writes.

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Citing an effort to confront breast cancer disparities in Chicago, Ayaniansuggests that community members and others should first understand the specificbarriers minorities face in obtaining high-quality care and then developeffective partnerships to eliminate the disparities (Ayanian, Newsweek,12/10).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly HealthDisparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of TheHenry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.