The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed for many the reality that vast inequities exist in the nation’s health care system. That can be particularly true for children and families, many of whom face barriers to access and unequal care outcomes as a result of many factors and social determinants of health.
Finding a solution to make children’s health care more equitable for all requires a complex approach and strategic partnerships, said a group of pediatric health leaders and advocates in a recent webinar hosted by U.S. News & World Report.
Providers and partners should consider a three-pronged approach to addressing social determinants of health by working with individuals and families, communities and broader systems and policies, said Dr. Snehal Shah, a primary care pediatrician at the Boston Children’s Hospital Primary Care Center and research scholar in the Sandra L. Fenwick Institute for Pediatric Health Equity and Inclusion. “Health care entities could actually work in each one of those spaces,” she added.
For example, “child poverty has been associated with lots of adverse outcomes in children, and poverty is intergenerational,” Shah said. “Reducing poverty is actually a method of prevention,” she said, noting that federal and state policies that seek to increase resources and benefits have contributed to a decline in child poverty.
“This is an example of where individual providers and health care institutions can advocate for these policies and funding to increase some of the social supports not just to individual families, but to the population as a whole,” Shah said.