As monkeypox cases rise, cities are already reporting stark racial disparities in how the public health emergency is being handled. Data shows Philadelphia’s Black residents comprise 55% of the monkeypox cases, yet only get 23% of the vaccine supply — while the city’s white population, at 27% of the monkeypox cases, receives 57% of the vaccine supply (per CBS).
Similar disparities were reported during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Journal of Global Health, structural racism presented barriers that prevented BIPOC from getting the care they needed and resulted in disparate health outcomes.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, implementing community health workers (CHWs) can be an effective strategy in alleviating health disparities, as they can address the social determinants that especially affect lower-income, BIPOC populations. CHWs live in the regions they serve and use their shared experiences to connect with other community members and educate them on important public health issues. They act as patient advocates and bridge the gap between health professionals and patients by providing valuable resources and communicating important information.
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