Troubling disparities for children of color’s health begin even before they are born and continue throughout the life cycle. This is a fact that was always in mind during the Race Matters conference held two weeks ago. Starting from before birth and during the first year, the data tells us that significant disparities exist in adequacy of prenatal care and the especially troubling differences in infant mortality based on race.
Disparities in health and access to health care continue to exist beyond the first year of life with higher rates of uninsured children especially for those who are Hispanic or American Indian/Alaska Native:
These data points only begin to tell the story of the health of Nebraska children and how their health in the early years of life impact their health and success as adults.
As we broke out into groups on the first day of the conference, we began the discussions on what racial equity in Nebraska means when it comes to health. Josie Rodriguez from the Office of Health Disparities and Health Equity began the day with a look further in to the data and issues impacting the health of Nebraska’s children, especially those of color. We also heard from Building Healthy Futures on the innovative school-based health centers that are currently working in several Omaha Public School sites. We ended the day with an interactive presentation from Donna Polk with the Urban Indian Health Coalition discussing how where people live can impact their health and possible solutions to increase equity while reducing cost and strain on the public health system.
After a full day of information, we headed into the second day to discuss action steps as we utilized the Racial Equity Impact Analysis Tool on our vision for the future of racial equity in health. Energized with inspiration from our keynote speakers, the room was full of ideas for intentionally seeking racial equity through policy change and increased access to quality, affordable health care. Our conversations included thoughts on increased affordability of education for all health practitioners to a model for a universal health care system. Although the situations were all hypothetical newspaper headlines—“Nebraska: the healthiest state in the nation” and the more humorous “Bo Pelini donates his contract buy-out to create a universal children’s healthcare system”—working through the issue in a group allowed for us all to begin thinking about continuing to advocate for racial equity in our own sectors.
We all left the conference inspired and motivated to continue to move the mark towards equitable health for all Nebraskans and we are excited for what the future holds for the Race Matters Initiative and our state.