Health News Roundup

Week of December 11, 2017

health equity

Nothing protects black women from dying in pregnancy and childbirth
Nina Martin, ProPublica, and Renee Montagne, NPR, December 7
Shalon Irving was a researcher working to eradicate disparities in health access and outcomes when she died following childbirth. She became a symbol of one of the most troubling health disparities facing black women in the U.S. today, disproportionately high rates of maternal mortality. A black woman is 22 percent more likely to die from heart disease than a white woman, 71 percent more likely to perish from cervical cancer, but 243 percent more likely to die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related causes.

Color line persists, in sickness as in health
Liz Kowalczyk, Todd Wallack, Nicole Dungca, Akilah Johnson, Andrew Ryan, Adrian Walker, and Patricia Wen, The Boston Globe, December 12
Patients fly in from all over the country to get care at Massachusetts General Hospital. Yet, most black Bostonians don’t travel the five to 10 miles from their neighborhoods to take advantage of the hospital’s immense medical resources. Though the issue gets scant attention in this center of world-class medicine, segregation patterns are deeply imbedded in Boston health care. Simply put: If you are black in Boston, you are less likely to get care at several of the city’s elite hospitals than if you are white.

Native Americans feel invisible in U.S. health care system
Eric Whitney, NPR, December 12
The life expectancy of Native Americans in some states is 20 years shorter than the national average. There are many reasons why. Among them, health programs for American Indians are chronically underfunded by Congress. And about a quarter of Native Americans reported experiencing discrimination when going to a doctor or health clinic.

WORTHwhile reads

Massachusetts spends less per poor student than we do and gets better results
Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, The  Connecticut Mirror, December 12
For years Massachusetts has been doing a better job of educating students from poor homes than Connecticut – and spending less per student to do it. Massachusetts students from low-income homes are among the highest achieving in the country in math and reading and above average in science. Their Connecticut peers are among the nation’s worst performers in math and science and are middle-of-the-pack in reading.

Report: 27 Facilities using hazardous chemicals pose risk to thousands of low-income neighbors
Adam Wisnieski, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, December 13
There are 27 facilities in Connecticut that use such large quantities of hazardous chemicals that they are required to submit disaster response plans to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Low-income people and children of color under the age of 12 are more likely than their white counterparts to live in these “fenceline” communities, according to a report by the Center for Effective Government.