Health Inequalities and Infectious Disease Epidemics: A Challenge for Global Health Security
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
: 3:18 p.m. - 3:34 p.m.
In the era of MERS, new influenza viruses, and the Ebola epidemic, the rapidity of travel across borders and continents can fuel the global transmission of infectious diseases. Historical records document the impact of social determinants of health including poverty, crowding, and inequality on past influenza pandemics. Most recently, Ebola provides a tragic example of how social determinants of health can exacerbate disease outbreaks. Histories of civil war, profound lack of health care professionals and infrastructure, distrust of government, social stigma and poverty were some drivers of the epidemic in West Africa. In a domestic example, Quinn et al (2011) and Kumar et al (2012) found that Hispanics had a greater inability to social distance during a pandemic, and that the lack of sick leave and inability to social distance at work contributed to significant disparities in H1N1 incidence among Hispanics. Indeed, existing health disparities or inequalities can further contribute to unequal burdens of morbidity and mortality during infectious diseases outbreaks. Yet, most planning for disease outbreaks assumes that such outbreaks affect all populations similarly. Few national plans address existing inequalities with the exception of acknowledgement of the need for cultural sensitivity. In order to meet the goals and objectives of the Global Health Security Agenda, international partners, including the US governmental agencies, the WHO, and individual countries must go beyond that simplistic understanding to begin to address the role of social determinants of health and existing health inequalities in outbreaks and pandemics, and plan new strategies to address these issues. This presentation will address surveillance, disease prevention, community engagement, and the important role that the social and behavioral sciences, new technology, and computational modeling may play in enabling public health agencies to be better prepared to address existing health inequalities and fostering effective responses.
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related public policy
Identify at least two ways in which existing social determinants of health and health inequalities can exacerbate disease outbreaks; and
Describe two strategies to facilitate more effective planning and responses to infectious disease outbreaks.
Keyword(s): Health Disparities/Inequities, Emergency Preparedness
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted research on the impact of existing disparities on infectious diseases. In my current NIH study on vaccine disparities between white and African American adults, I am examining broader social factors including discrimination, access to care, perceived racism, ability to social distance, access to health care, and other social and economic factors that could affect vaccine disparities and transmission of infectious diseases.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.