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Health Equity for All: ‘It’s Everyone’s Responsibility’ 

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Author name: Lee Health


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April was National Minority Health Month, which builds awareness around the health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minority communities. The annual observance aims to ensure that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health—what public health experts call “health equity.”

But as a new month begins, National Minority Health Month also reminds us that health equity is not just a goal but a journey throughout the year that requires our ongoing commitment, says Rachel Walter, associate director of Lee Community Healthcare.

“Health disparities aren’t statistics; they represent real people facing real challenges,” Rachel says. “Research shows these disparities are rooted in historical and contemporary injustices and compounded by factors limiting access to healthcare, nutritious food, and safe environments. Rachel adds, “The good news is that we can change this! By understanding the problem and taking action, we can make a difference for healthier communities. It’s everyone’s responsibility to care about health disparities in our communities.” 

Lee Community Healthcare works with public health agencies and other community-based partners to provide quality, equitable, and respectful care and services that honor diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, economic and environmental circumstances, and health literacy levels. 

“When patients are provided with culturally and linguistically appropriate information, they’re better able to create healthier outcomes for themselves, their families, and their communities,” Rachel says.

READPreventing pregnancy-related deaths and improving maternal health outcomes among Black women.

Make a difference: contribute your ‘time, talent, and treasure’

Southwest Florida is blessed to have so many generous people who offer their “time, talent, and treasure” to help others, Rachel says. 

“Our efforts together are essential to eliminate health inequities that are based on race, ethnicity, gender, or language. We contribute to a healthier and more equitable society by taking meaningful actions. Connecting with your interests to the needs of your community is a great way to get involved and have fun in the process.”

Some ways you can make a difference in your community:

  • Educate yourself: Learn about health disparities and the social determinants of health. Understand how systemic racism and structural inequalities impact health outcomes for different communities.
  • Volunteer: Get involved in community organizations that work toward health equity. Support initiatives that address racial and ethnic disparities. “Get familiar with nonprofit organizations and what they need,” Rachel says. “It’s important to know which organizations need help in your area. Get out in your community and, if necessary, go beyond. Because if you don’t live around the problem, you won’t see the challenge.”
  • Support educational opportunities and programs that empower underserved communities and include people who face barriers to getting public healthcare goods and services.
  • Nutrition: Promote access to healthy food options in underserved areas. “Nonprofit community kitchens always need help,” Rachel notes. “If you have cooking skills, for example, you can prepare meals for the homeless and people struggling with food insecurity.
  • Donate: Contribute to organizations working on health equity and community development.
  • Participate in community events, workshops, and health fairs that provide valuable resources and information to those who need it most.
  • Advocate for policy change: Contact your local representatives and advocate for policies that address health disparities, such as expanding access to healthcare, reducing environmental hazards, and promoting social justice.
  • Vote: Participate in local and national elections to elect leaders who prioritize health equity.
  • Self-reflection: Reflect on your own biases and stereotypes. Be aware of how they may influence your interactions with others.
  • Use social media: Utilize social media platforms to share stories, statistics, and information that can educate and inspire others to take action to reduce barriers to healthcare services.

READ: Healthy Lee and Lee Health Join Forces on Food Security Program

Lee Community Healthcare is a community health center that provides primary medical care to the medically uninsured and economically distressed residents of Southwest Florida. That means you and your family have access to primary care, tests, immunizations, mental health, pediatrics, women's care, and more — no matter your financial situation. 

To find a location near you, click here. 

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