Dr. Jan Malcom, Minnesota’s Health Commissioner, discusses steps to ensure health equity for people in the nation’s LGBTQI+ community; Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge, ASTHO’s Senior Vice President of Health Equity and Diversity Initiatives,...
Dr. Jan Malcolm, Minnesota’s Health Commissioner, discusses steps to ensure health equity for people in the nation’s LGBTQI+ community; Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge, ASTHO’s Senior Vice President of Health Equity and Diversity Initiatives, welcomes the possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine for kids under five years old; ASTHO’s Juneteenth webinar about the impact of racism on health equity is today; and ASTHO plans a webinar about the role of transport services in the work to improve risk appropriate care.
This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Thursday, June 16th, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.
Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
When it comes to ensuring health equity for people belonging to the nation's LGBTQI+ community, Minnesota health commissioner Dr. Jan Malcom says the solution must include representation. As we know, June is Pride Month. In recognition, we asked Dr. Malcolm about this important health equity topic. It's today's morning conversation.
Can you take us through some of the health disparities that you see when it comes to public health and the LGBTQI+ community?
We see many of the same kinds of disparities that we do in other aspects of our health equity work. So, all groups that suffer some structural barriers to access, to opportunity—as is true for the LGBTQI+ community—also then develop disproportionate risks for health conditions and higher rates of chronic diseases, difficulty accessing care for those things. And that has certainly shown up in COVID as in other diseases. So, really we see those same kinds of access concerns, and then potentially differential treatment even within access to services.
So, how do you think public health professionals can address these disparities? What can they do?
Well, I think that the approaches that we are all striving to take in health equity is about appreciating what are the upstream causes of the downstream inequities. So, that same methodology, I think, does apply to understanding health disparities in the LGBTQI community as well.
Another thing just to keep in mind is that intersectionality plays a huge role here, too, because folks who are part of this community also are parts of other communities. Whether you're looking at race and ethnicity or other types of demographic characteristics, there are LGBTQI folks in those groups as well. So, just being aware of intersectionality as a compounding factor is important here, too.
But yes, I think for us in public health, it's understanding looking for disparities—not always just assuming that the average holds for everybody, but intentionally looking for disparities. We don't always have good data. That's sometimes really a challenge, to get data on sexual identity and sexual preference, but it's important that we have it so that we can measure disparities.
When it comes to achieving health equity for the LGBTQI+ community, how important is representation?
I think representation is really critical and we've certainly seen that in our outreach strategies around COVID and other conditions where we see the disparities. That being served by organizations that are of and by the community and hearing messages from trusted messengers who are part of the community is very important.
I mean, we've found what a difference it makes to have members of our staff, myself included, who are part of this community speaking to the community. It makes a big difference. There's a credibility that comes to the messages. You know, whether that's showing up at Pride events, making sure that there are vaccines available at Pride events during this particular COVID season, continuing other opportunities as well—just being part of the community addresses a lot of those kinds of comfort and belongingness issues that we know are so important for people to feel heard and to feel served.
Dr. Kimberlee Wyche-Etheridge leads ASTHO's health equity initiatives and programs, but did you know she's also a pediatrician? It's her long record of work keeping kids in Tennessee healthy that has us asking for her reaction to the news that regulators are discussing this week—a COVID-19 vaccine for kids under five years old.
This is something that parents and pediatrician and family practitioners have been waiting for for months. How do we better protect our youngest, most vulnerable population—as we refer to them, our little humans? And so, finally getting to the point where we have a vaccine that has been tested and retested and tested again and proven safe for this population is just a wonderful breakthrough.
Today's the day for ASTHO's Juneteenth webinar about the impact of racism on health equity. It's hosted by Dr. Wyche-Etheridge. You can register to watch the event until it starts at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time today.
If you want to hear the discussion, make sure you tune in live this afternoon—the event will not be recorded. Sign up for the online presentation using the link in the show notes.
Finally this morning, you can learn more about the role of transport services in the work to improve risk appropriate care during an ASTHO webinar on the topic on Wednesday, June 22. Leaders from two medical transport organizations, PHI Air medical and Boston MedFlight, will be on hand for the discussion. You can sign up using the link in the show notes.
That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.
I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.