After nearly a year of health equity work, Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said the department will continue to make justice in the medical space a top priority.
“Dr. King famously called injustice in health the most inhumane and shocking form of inequality,” Becerra began in a keynote address during the Health Affairs Briefing: Racism & Health Virtual Event. “The past two years of this pandemic have really underscored the inequality in brutal detail, especially for communities of color.”
COVID-19 has killed Black, Latino, and Indigenous people at double the rate of White people, Becerra pointed out, while Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders remain three times as likely to contract the illness compared to White people.
But echoing many across the industry, health inequity did not begin when the novel coronavirus came ashore in the US. Rather, the pandemic illuminated stark racial health disparities present across a number of disease states, from maternal outcomes to cardiovascular mortality.
“We can, and we must, do more, and we must do better,” Becerra asserted. “That’s why at HHS, we’re putting equity at the core of everything we do.”