Health News Roundup

Calls for a more diverse health care workforce, and more in this week’s roundup

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Health care needs to diversify its workforce to get rid of racial inequalities, a new report says
Devna Bose, The Associated Press, June 26
A new report found that racial and ethnic health disparities persist in every U.S. state, despite efforts to improve outcomes and raise awareness over the past two decades. The report detailed how structural racism has contributed to worse health outcomes for people of color. It also offered recommendations including a diverse workforce and adjusting payment systems to make health care more affordable. “Inequities are baked into our health care system, and if we address them, everyone benefits,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, co-chair of the committee that wrote the report.

How the health system is trying to improve postpartum care
Maya Goldman, Axios, June 24
Medical societies and governments have been revising postpartum care guidelines in an effort to improve that care. More than half of pregnancy-related deaths in the United States occur up to one year after birth and are largely preventable. Black and Native American women are disproportionately impacted. Traditionally, postpartum care has been limited to a checkup at six weeks after birth. However, experts said this one appointment, which many patients miss, may not be enough to flag potential long-term risks and complications. While changes are being made, there is still no official clinical standard for caring for a mother in the first year after giving birth.

Gun violence is now a public health crisis. What does that actually mean?
Jennifer Gerson, The 19th News, June 25
U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has declared gun violence a public health crisis. Advocates said it is a call for better understanding of not only the demographics most impacted by this violence, but the evidence-based solutions for preventing it. The surgeon general’s report underscores how firearms have become the leading cause of death of children and teenagers. It states that in 2022, Black children and adolescents accounted for about half of all firearm‑related deaths among U.S. children and adolescents, despite making up only 14% of that age group’s population. The report calls on public health leaders and policymakers to take specific actions such as requiring safe and secure firearm storage.

Chronic hypertension has soared among pregnant women. Treatment is not keeping pace
Eduardo Cuevas, USA Today, June 21
High blood pressure during pregnancy can cause organ damage in mothers and increase the risk of preterm birth or low birth weight babies. A new study found the rate of chronic high blood pressure in pregnant women doubled over a 14-year period. However, the use of medications that can treat the condition remained about the same. Women of color are at greater risk of dying during or after childbirth. “We need to better understand gaps in treatment for chronic hypertension, especially in these high-risk groups,” said Candice A. Price, a program director at NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

High cost of health care leading to ‘impossible choices’
Hudson Kamphausen, CT News Junkie, June 25
An analysis of the cost of health care in Connecticut found that about 650,000 state residents have to regularly choose between paying for health care or paying other necessary bills such as rent or utilities. “These are impossible choices that no one should have to make,” said Lisa Manzer, director of the Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington, which conducted the study. The data also indicated that about 260,000 children’s needs cannot fully be met. Researchers said on average health care is not affordable for a household of four making less than the state’s median income, which in 2022 was $88,429.