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U.S. News & World Report: Health Equity for All Kids Is a Challenging Yet Attainable Goal

By Elaine K. Howley

It's often said that children are the future, but for some kids, achieving a healthy adulthood is harder than it is for others. That's due to a number of variables, perhaps the most pernicious of which is a social environment that features structural racism, implicit and explicit bias, and other factors that create inequitable access to health care and disparities for kids in some racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. These experiences early in life are not short-lived: They can have long-term health consequences.

That was the overarching theme of "Achieving Health Equity for All Kids," a webinar from U.S. News & World Report in the Pediatric Priorities series that's looking at improving children's health in the COVID-19 era.

It's a complex topic for sure, but one that many children's hospitals are committed to working through. Making meaningful change toward health equity is an all-hands-on-deck effort, noted Dr. John Cowden, a general academic pediatrician and health equity integration project leader with Children's Mercy Kansas City.

"If you have just an office or a center, and even a number of dedicated staff (focused on improving health equity), it's easy for people to assume they're the ones who will take care of all the things that need to be taken care of," he said. "An analogy that we use is safety. In safety work, it would not be reasonable for me to say that 'safety is not my work as a pediatrician; that's the safety officer's work.'"

Cowden added that the work, whenever possible, should leverage the power of human experiences and stories to make inroads versus just fixating on the numbers in the charts for disparities. Sometimes "a single story can show us disparity in a more powerful way than a chart," he said.


Read the full panel via U.S. News & World Report

Learn more about Equity and Diversity at Children's Mercy