As a student at Santa Clara High School, I benefit from learning from peers’ culturally diverse backgrounds as over 50% of my classmates are Hispanic or Filipino. This enriched ethnic environment allows opportunities to learn about different cultural traditions. However, during COVID, I learned more about how many of my classmates suffered specific health disparities attributed to the pandemic.
Such disparities occur, even though the Santa Clara County Public Health Department Bay Area community works to improve access to care across the extended Bay Area, demonstrated by a new community board, the Race and Health Disparities Community Board, to tackle issues that help create these disparities and identify gaps in our existing healthcare systems and public health programs that leave some community members behind. According to California’s state government Covid-19 tracking, Latino people account for 45.7% of all Covid-19 cases while accounting for less than 39% of the population. When compared to other races such as white people, who account for 25.2% of the confirmed cases but make up more than a third of California’s population. We can clearly see the disproportionate impact the pandemic had on the Latino population of Santa Clara county. It is important to take steps to curb these inequalities and provide people of all races with opportunities to take care of their health and themselves.
Moreover, my research reveals the diverse efforts the Santa Clara Public Health Department undertakes to conduct specialized health assessments for different racial and ethnic groups, including its Asian and Pacific Islander health assessment that revealed the stark differences between and within certain groups, such as Santa Clara’s Vietnamese community’s overall health and healthcare. Research shows that access is different than the health status and outcomes of South Asian members of the extended community.
I also learned that health disparities occur beyond the Bay Area, as measured by differences in incidence, mortality, burden of disease, and other adverse health conditions. While disparities are often interpreted to reflect differences between racial or ethnic groups, disparities can exist across different groups, including gender, sexual orientation, age, disability socioeconomic status, and geographic location, factors that may shape an individuals’ ability to achieve optimal health.
Mitchelle Pitcher “New Santa Clara County board aims to address racial disparities in health care” 21 Feb 2021 Mercury News.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on Community-Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the US; Baciu A, Negussie Y, Geller A, et al., editors. Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity. Washington DC: National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jan 11 at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425844/.
I had no clue that there was such a disparity between the percentage of the population of minority groups contracting COVID-19 compared to majority groups. I do believe that this is a symptom of a bigger disparity between the two groups, not only in terms of the accessibility of healthcare, but also factors such as location, job opportunities, and even the stress from the threat of racism, which has been shown to induce an effect similar to early aging on the body.