According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, several social determinants can influence health outcomes: Access to quality medical care and education, economic stability, social support networks, and community engagement.
The COVID-19 crisis has been instrumental in identifying areas that need improvement in the U.S. health-care system. Throughout the pandemic, there have been issues with accessibility, quality, as well as capacity.
Although the vaccine has been rolled out, it has been fraught with availability issues. Front line essential workers, the high-risk population, and the elderly are top priority; but even members of these groups are having difficulty gaining access to vaccines.
To date, only a small percentage of the U.S. population has been inoculated. Meanwhile, the virus has mutated; communities are now facing the unwelcome prospect of new variants.
Glaring disparities among minority groups have also come to light over the past year. African American and Native American populations have experienced a higher rate of infection and mortality. These communities often lack consistent access to quality health care. There is also a measure of mistrust among minorities, due to historical incidents of medical exploitation.
To address racial disparities as they relate to the pandemic, the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology will host “A Path Forward,” a two-part virtual Community Awareness Roundtable series Feb. 22 and March 9.
Part one will educate participants about COVID-19, the arrival of its new variants, and how it can impact communities and people of color. Most importantly, it will explain how community engagement can play a significant role in preventing the spread.
In the first part of the series, researchers, educators, and area leaders will discuss exposure and testing, the variants, prevention, and treatment of COVID-19; measures to promote health literacy; and the session will close with a question-and-answer component, designed to foster community confidence.
The second session will discuss the COVID-19 vaccine, historically based mistrust, and community mobilization.
“Combating this deadly virus will require community and faith-based organizations, employers, healthcare systems and providers, public health agencies, and policymakers coming together to educate the public and to help separate fact from fear,” said Dr. Darrell Ezell, director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at HudsonAlpha. “A Path Forward is another step in our mission to connect with the diverse community we live in and provide clear, trusted information informed by science.”
The two-part series is free and open to the public. To register, visit https://buff.ly/3cHtNug.