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Solutions to Address Health Disparities | Mainstage

programming partner:Americares e1635353140442 - Solutions to Address Health Disparities | Mainstage

Christine Squires, President and CEO, Americares
Toyin Ojora Saraki, Founder and President, The Wellbeing Foundation Africa; Concordia Leadership Council Member
Angel Ortiz Ricard, Senior Public Health Advisor, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
M. Rashad Massoud, Senior Vice President and Chief Program Officer, Americares

Everyone deserves access to health but local barriers often prevent access. Christine Squires, President & CEO of Americares, explained her organization’s mission to help local health centers build capacity and provide communities with the healthcare they need.

Turning to the panel, Squires asked about the impact of excluding women from healthcare leadership. Toyin Ojora Saraki, Founder & President of The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, described how women are underrepresented in leadership while comprising the bulk of healthcare workers and unpaid caregivers. This inequality creates a culture that undermines health and safety by contributing to burnout and low morale. Training and paying women brings instant impact and advocacy to communities, professional autonomy, and improved health outcomes.

Within the U.S., similar issues plague access to healthcare. Angel Ortiz Ricard, Senior Public Health Advisor for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, listed factors including insurance coverage, unreliable transportation, and stigmatizing language as reasons for vaccine inequity. The CDC acknowledges historical trauma and works with local and tribal groups to promote vaccination and lessen inequity. M. Rashad Massoud, Senior Vice President & Chief Program Officer of Americares, explained how trusted messengers are crucial to promoting healthcare equity. People trust their healthcare workers, so educating them and promoting vaccinations among the field has a ripple effect. Massoud also described a lesson learned from work in maternal health, where the most effective messengers were mothers in law.

Closing the panel discussion, Squires reiterated the need to understand barriers, develop locally-led solutions, and build trust to achieve health equity.

Health is essential for everything else.

Christine Squires

The calls for equity and equality in health have risen from murmurs to bellows.

Toyin Ojora Saraki

We know that some racial and ethnic minority groups are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Angel Ortiz Ricard

Multiple studies have shown that people trust more than anybody when it comes to something like vaccine uptake, the doctors and nurses who see them for their regular conditions.

M. Rashad Massoud

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Women caregivers are at the core of community health systems but they are often underappreciated and poorly represented. Strengthening their ability to influence leadership decisions is an important step toward equity.
  • Community caregivers play a crucial role as trusted messengers to promote better health.