Disparities are greatest in America for Black and Latino children, who are more likely than white children to live in poverty and be exposed to environmental factors such as air and water pollution.
For example, Black children get asthma at twice the rate as white children. Latino children have a higher rate of obesity and are more likely than white children to get Type 2 diabetes. Black and Latino children have also contracted the coronavirus at higher rates than white kids. Treating those maladies as well as behavior disorders is an increasingly costly endeavor, Nemours officials said.
Conducting the research will be pediatric specialists, behavioral economists, health services researchers, environmental health experts, data informaticists, and other professionals. Projects will put health care workers and programs in communities where disparities exist.
”We have researchers who are based in Florida, who are based in Delaware, and when we find something that works, we’ll be able to deploy it or test it in different places,’’ Odom Walker said.
“There are many who have thought about these issues for a long time, and a range of opportunities exist for us to pull together the best thoughts from government and communities and business leaders. And it really does have to lean into where communities see the need and where the infrastructure and the dollars can come together and create the best allocation of resources.”
She said Nemours is in for the long haul. “We know that health disparities weren’t created overnight,” she said. “They were created through generations of underinvestment. So we absolutely recognize this is a journey now.”
News of the Nemours project gratified Dr. Megan Werner, associate medical director at Westside Family Healthcare in Wilmington. Westside’s patients are predominantly low-income Black and Latino men, women, and children.
“We have known for a long time that it’s the social and environmental determinants of health that really impact a person’s well-being much more or maybe in addition to the health care that we can provide for them,’’ Werner said.