A letter from the public health community, an announcement from the White House on new initiatives and a Senate committee that heard all health equity efforts related to COVID-19 prioritized the week of March 22.
AAMC joined nearly 80 national organizations in a letter of March 24 leadership from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emphasizing the need for continued investment in communities of color and communities that are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The letter was co-edited by Trust for America’s Health, the American Public Health Association, and the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum.
March 25, White House announced $ 10 billion investment to “expand access to COVID-19 vaccines and build confidence in vaccines in hardest hit and most at risk communities.” The investment factsheet details that $ 6 billion will go to community health centers to expand access to vaccines to underserved communities, $ 3 billion will be spent on building confidence in vaccines, and $ 330 million will be spent on building confidence in vaccines. dollars will support community health workers. The fact sheet also announced a new public-private partnership with dialysis clinics to vaccinate their patients.
On the same day, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing entitled: “Review of our response to COVID-19: Improving equity and health outcomes by addressing health disparities. Academic medicine representatives who testified included Consuelo Wilkins, MD, MSCI, vice president for health equity at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Gene Woods, MBA, MHA, FACHE, president and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. ‘Atrium Health.
In her opening statementPresident Patty Murray (D-Wash.) noted, “We also lack federal reporting requirements for collective care facilities, including for people with disabilities who have also been particularly affected by COVID-19. And the challenge ahead is not only to accurately collect and report the data, but to act on the realities we already see ahead of us and continue to collect information to improve our response. ”
Murray also discussed his September 2020 report, “COVID-19 and Achieving Health Equity: Congressional Action Needed to Address Racism and Inequalities in the U.S. Health Care SystemWhich highlighted the need for a dedicated strategy to fight COVID-19 for communities of color.
Ranking member Richard Burr (RN.C.) added: “The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minority populations, people in rural areas and others has revealed cracks in our healthcare system that persist. despite efforts to improve care… Our response efforts must leverage technology to improve our surveillance capabilities and inform our public health decision making. And our policies should encourage the incorporation of new technologies, strategies and partnerships to solve old problems and challenges. ”
During his testimony, Wilkins discussed the importance of race, ethnicity and language data in addressing health disparities related to COVID-19, while Enhanced wood the importance of working with local communities and creating public-private partnerships to instill confidence in minority and under-represented communities.