Addressing Disparities and Inequalities in Healthcare: Disproportionate Representation of Minorities in COVID-19 Deaths as a Health and Social Injustice

Hope Attipoe


Social inequalities exist around the world limiting a group's social, health, and economic advancement. These unfavorable conditions inhibit people from having access to essential resources such as healthcare, housing, education, employment, and transportation. Consequently, inequalities in accessing indispensable social goods generally affects diets and overall health and wellness of individuals negatively. Unfortunately, this systemic problem tends to inflict greater harm to lower-income groups disproportionately. These limitations usually result in poorer health and higher rates of health problems. Historically, existing inequalities in society are manifested in moments of crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic (2019-2021) revealed overwhelming manifestation of this fact. The mortality rates for African Americans are more than triple the rates for whites after correcting for age, and the rates for Hispanic/Latinos are almost double the rates for non-Hispanic whites. According to the CDC’s racial demographic information on COVID-19 cases and deaths, almost 23% of reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are African Americans, even though blacks make up approximately only 13% of the U.S. population. This glaring revelation of the health inequities that exist in our society must be addressed. This paper examines the documented cases of significant health inequities in the U.S. including the underlying social determinants and implications that make minority groups vulnerable, contributing to their higher risk of morbidity and mortalities, and argued that healthcare is a fundamental human rights issue as stated in a 2017 WHO press release. This author contends that health inequity due to social inequity is unsustainable, and a detriment to sustainable development and provide recommendations to address the health inequities.

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