At the health equity conference in Columbia last week, between the steady stream of PowerPoints and pie charts, I had the chance to talk with some smart folks who spend their time thinking about health disparities and how to end them:
Thomas LaVeist is professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University, and director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. But he says you can't just talk about health disparities: differences in health are closely linked to wealth, education, and incarceration rates. He calls these "the four great disparities," and says they must all be addressed in concert.
To listen to my conversation with Dr. LaVeist, click here:
Darrell Kirch is president of the Association of American Medical Colleges. "Unfortunately, in America today, we have a situation of great health inequity," he says. "Some of the causes for the inequity in health in the U.S. go far beyond medicine and genes, and they involve social factors -- education, poverty. We feel that by selecting doctors who pay attention to those issues, and who've studied those issues, we'll have people who are better prepared to meet the challenges of those inequities and help resolve them." He says it's time for medical schools to rethink the admissions process.
To hear my interview with Dr. Kirch, click here:
I also talked to Joe Parks, medical director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, about the health disparities for people with mental illnesses. He says people with severe mental illnesses have more chronic medical issues than the population at large, including conditions ranging from diabetes to heart disease. "They actually die an average of 25 years younger than the average population, somewhere in their mid-fifties. It's an astonishing epidemic."
To hear my conversation with Dr. Parks, click here: