Health Disparities

Summary

Health disparities refer to statistically significant differences in the health status of populations. These are often preventable and reflect other underlying differences in the population in question, namely the ones in ethnicity, socioeconomic status, poverty levels and even education.

Health disparities that bear significance in the Southwest United States are of historic origin. They have persisted for centuries, and efforts to reduce them have only been partially successful. For instance, the establishment of the Indian Health Service has enabled the provision of better healthcare to the population in the Southwest United States, and the documentation of risk factors that can contribute to health disparities.

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One of the health disparities witnessed in the Southwest United States is the high prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus among the American Indians. The number of cases is significantly higher among this population than among average Americans. The reasons for this disparity vary, but they mostly center on the genetic predisposal of these people.

The second health disparity is high infant mortality rates among the American Indian and Alaskan populations. These result from pneumonia, flu and fetal alcohol spectrum of disorders. Again, it reflects difference in the general quality of healthcare among American populations.

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In order to eliminate health disparities, measures have to be taken to enhance the delivery of healthcare, prevent diseases and promote healthy lifestyles. Research should also be conducted in order to identify various health risks, determinants of the disease and possible interventions. The underlying socio-economic causes of health disparities need to be dealt with. 

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