Ideally, everyone should have equal access to doctors, hospitals, and medical lab tests in their communities. However, large disparities exist in access to health care services in the United States. The elderly, minorities, and uninsured are most likely to experience obstacles in receiving quality health care. These Americans are unable to get the preventative care, effective treatment, and health education that could improve their health and well-being. Consequently, they will lead shorter and unhealthier lives. In addition, the effects of health disparities often begin at birth and persist throughout one’s life leading to chronic medical problems that go untreated.
Given the link between high quality health care and a good quality of life, health care disparities are a pressing problem in the United States. Considering that Alabama consistently has the highest rates of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and obesity, the stakes and the need here are even higher. While the need is great the opportunity is even greater: All of these chronic diseases that have such a heavy impact on people’s lives can be managed and prevented!
While the realize this problem is much larger than us as individuals, this is a charge we will not ignore. EAB is has developed a number of programs that partner medicals students with healthcare professionals, and community organizations to address this dire need in our community: Staffing the free health clinic at M-Power Ministries once a week, holding monthly health screenings, and providing various health education opportunities, we provide health care for many who would not receive it otherwise.
To a better future...
In truth, we recognize that the greatest progress towards addressing health disparities in Alabama will be realized in the future. As medical students form the majority of our volunteer base, we actively provide opportunities that will open their eyes to the needs the underserved in our community. In turn, this experience has and will continue to guide the their futures as healthcare providers in the community.
While medical students at UAB are the main volunteers involved in this organization, members of the Birmingham community can help by volunteering their time or donating money. Together as citizens of the Birmingham community, we can alleviate the silent suffering of many and demonstrate how caring we are as a community.
By the Numbers:
In Jefferson county, Alabama…
27.7% of children under the age of 18 are living in poverty
18.6% of all county residents are living in poverty
14.3% of residents under 65 lack any type of health insurance