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04.09.21

Health justice in the COVID-19 era

BY Sarah E. Swank

The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting preexisting health care inequalities—in the U.S. and throughout the Americas. Together with Hector Carrasco, M.D., M.P.H, DrPH and Risha Irvin, M.D., M.P.H, we discuss care areas facing a disproportionate amount of challenge, including maternal health, mental health, opioid prevention, digital health and vaccine delivery, and potential solutions on the path to health justice.

Please listen in to hear a global perspective about:

  • What we knew about health care disparities pre-pandemic and how that is evolving during the pandemic.
  • The challenges of a health care system set up for diagnosis and treatment rather than prevention after a crisis, including avoidable hospitalizations.
  • The similarities and differences in care in countries throughout the Americas especially for those most vulnerable. We discuss vaccine hesitations versus vaccine access, vaccine passports, transportation, and digital equity.
  • Social determinants of health. How factors in our health and society—like race, homelessness, food insecurity, transportation, and digital health inequity—create adverse health outcomes.
  • New challenges as the pandemic creates and amplifies inequalities in our health system, including data collection challenges and public health resources.
  • Lessons learned and potential solutions to address inequalities in care delivery after the pandemic, including the crisis standard of care, climate change, our global economy and shared humanity.

The topic of health justice is a critical one. I appreciate Dr. Carrasco and Dr. Irvin for their time and perspective to push this discussion forward. Re-thinking Everything, COVID-19 in the Americas was a six-month conference bringing together over 140 speakers from 19 different countries to discuss a broad range of issues related to the pandemic. It was sponsored by the AHF Global Public Health Institute and the Institute of Advanced Study of The Americas (both at the University of Miami), and the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC).

  • Sarah Swank is a health attorney in the Washington, DC office of Nixon Peabody LLP. She provides strategic advice and health care policy support to physicians, hospitals, academic medical centers, associations and mature health care startups.
  • Hector Carrasco, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.PH is the Public Health Director for the Tennessee Department of Health’s State Opioid Response and Professor of global health at the Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico.
  • Risha Irvin, M.D., M.P.H. is Assistant Professor, Division of Infectious Diseases; Associate Professor of Diversity and Inclusion, Dept. of Medicine; Director, Baltimore HIV Collaboratory, Center for AIDS Research; Director, Sharing the Cure, Maryland Community Based Programs to Test and Cure Hepatitis C; Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
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Sarah E. Swank

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