Health disparities across the U.S. are a result of a conglomerate of factors consisting of systematic inequalities, a lack of diversity, and the distribution of and access to healthcare resources. Multiple factors come into play when considering what health disparities an individual may be faced with such as age, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geography, sexual orientation, gender, and level of health literacy. Regardless of these different human characteristics, it is crucial that healthcare professionals design solutions that are effective at reaching these communities of people that are impacted the most by health disparities. Various institutions have begun to work on the elimination of health disparities nationwide.
One example includes Healthy People 2020, a program engineered by the federal government to build a healthier nation by identifying the most important preventable health threats, and establishing national goals to reduce those threats. Over the past few decades the “Healthy People” campaigns have sought to not just reduce, but to eliminate health disparities among Americans listing it as one of the top priorities of the program. Recognizing the multitude of factors that affect Americans, this campaign highlights the availability of, and access to:
- High-quality education
- Nutritious food
- Decent and safe housing
- Affordable, reliable public transportation
- Culturally sensitive health care providers
- Health insurance
- Clean water and non-polluted air
These factors are some of the most important influences on individual and community health (Healthy People 2020). For the duration of this decade, Healthy People 2020 will continue to investigate health disparities in the U.S. by analyzing the rates of illness, death, disease, and health behaviors. By using the information collected, healthcare professionals will be able to better identify and execute solutions that will reduce, and possibly eliminate healthcare disparities.