Black Health Advocates Watch For Covid-19 Funding
By Dianne Anderson
Hundreds of billions of dollars are rolling down from the federal government to deal with Coronavirus, which has African American health advocates watching and waiting for the trickle-down effect.
With little or no funding, Black community-based organizations often stand in the gap of health services to help move their community toward scant resources.
Long time advocate Ernesta Wright sees some of the same unequal access to healthcare playing out once again under the pandemic that is costing many more Black lives.
These past weeks have exposed just how thin the veil of disparities and how vulnerable the community really is.
Her concern is that Black-led health organizations have a local footprint where other large health entities don’t care to go. Those large providers access funding, but create a void of services because they are disconnected from the communities.
Wright, executive director of the G.R.E.E.N. Foundation, said that Black and Brown-led nonprofits need the funding to impact the communities that are taking the hardest hit by coronavirus.
“African American organizations, including the G.R.E.E.N. Foundation, already have the infrastructure in place to bring a team together to do quantifying data and help with testing and tracking of Covid 19 in our community,” Wright said
Many good organizations are already on the ground doing the hard work. She said they have the capacity, but they are in need of resources.
As she listened in on a recent Town Hall with Congresswoman Karen Bass, part of the focus was on what’s needed for the Black community to pull together and address Covid 19 at the local levels.
“To help save Black lives, she recommends at a national perspective that community-based organizations need resources and tracking intervention so we can get tested, and to do what is necessary in our community,” Wright said.
Wright, an ardent health education advocate for over two decades, said coronavirus is devastating beyond belief, especially in the Black community that is fighting decades of racism in the health industry. Systemic social injustice is also evidenced by numerous historic studies on disparities in access, diagnosis and treatment in healthcare.
At this time, she said the only advice for disproportionately impacted Black and Brown communities is to stay home, and ride out the sickness.
“For African Americans, that can mean death,” she said.
Rep. Bass highlighted that resources are needed for health organizations and advocates that have been doing the work all along in the community without compensation.
“Covid brings more light to what we all know who have been in healthcare fighting, that the system is broken for African Americans. And, we need to be focused on how do we put an infrastructure for covid19 to do the testing and tracking of our people in our community,” she said.
Last month, Clyde W. Yancy, MD,MSc, Division of Cardiology of Northwestern University addressed extreme disparities of COVID-19 and African American communities in a recent JAMA Network article.
“This infection rate is more than 3-fold higher than that in predominantly white counties. Moreover, this death rate for predominantly black counties is 6-fold higher than in predominantly white counties,” Yancy wrote of findings from Johns Hopkins University and American Community Survey that looked at infection and death disparity in 131 predominantly Black counties in the U.S.
“A 6-fold increase in the rate of death for African Americans due to a now ubiquitous virus should be deemed unconscionable. This is a moment of ethical reckoning,” Dr. Yancy stated.
Congressmember Bass and her staff say on their website that they are continuing to monitor the spread of the coronavirus disease outbreak, and are in regular contact with federal, state, and local public health officials.
“Throughout this crisis, our office has been hosting telephone town hall meetings with local and national experts to answer questions you have about this outbreak,” the website states.
To participate in the Rep. Bass Town Hall phone calls, see https://bass.house.gov/signup
For more information on the GREEN Foundation, see www.thegreenfoundation.net