On Saturday, COVID-19 restrictions across the state will ease after more than a year.
As the state moves towards recovery, many in healthcare – and beyond – are working to ensure that the disparities exacerbated by the pandemic are fully understood.
It is widely documented how color communities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The reasons for this lie in part in comorbidities that increase death and serious illness from COVID-19. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and asthma are more common in color communities, especially in black and Latin American households.
Dr. Monica Wang is the associate director of narratives at the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. She is also an Associate Professor of Community Health Services at the BU’s School of Public Health.
According to Wang, systemic racism combined with social, environmental, and economic injustices has impaired the ability of people in color communities to be healthy and access health care in the same way as other patients. This, combined with discrimination and bias, increases stress levels and further affects health.
“When all of this comes together, we have multiple levels of discrimination and we have multiple generations where people have psychologically embodied these injustices,” Wang said. “Racism and experiences with racism are chronic stressors. And studies have shown that chronic stress has physiological effects on your body. “
According to Wang, the work of breaking this cycle involves making corrections beyond healthcare, such as looking at how a person lives, works, and plays. She adds that a good starting point is to collect data and then examine the differences in that data.
For Dr. Sabrina Assoumou, an infectious disease doctor at Boston Medical Center, also aims to address these differences with access.
“Access to health care gives you a long-term relationship with a doctor to treat many of the pre-existing conditions that have made certain patients more likely to experience COVID complications,” Assoumou said. “For example, if a patient has diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, these are conditions that require long-term treatment. By providing access to health care, we enable patients to have a therapeutic relationship with a doctor who is able to care for these conditions so that if someone has COVID, there is less chance of someone suffering from complications and dying from them . ”
Click the audio player above to listen to the entire episode.
Dr. Monica Wang – 2:25
Dr. Sabrina Assoumou – 23:37
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