Health is not the same for everyone in Howard County

Health is not the same for everyone in Howard County

The Horizon Foundation in 2018 added a key priority to our list of initiatives — equity.

For 22 years, we have focused our work on ensuring everyone in Howard County can live a long, healthy life. That sweeping goal has led us to serve groups across racial and socioeconomic spectrums, advocating for priorities that include reducing sugary drink consumption, supporting mental health and building safe places to bike and walk.

But it had become glaringly apparent that these efforts would ultimately fall short if we didn’t address one underlying truth: the benefits of our wealthy and fast-growing county are not equally shared. Persistent racial disparities negatively affect health outcomes for a significant number of our residents.

Last month, the Horizon Foundation released a report, “The 2020 Vision for Health in Howard County,” providing the data — taken from publicly available sources — to underscore this point. The themes highlighted in the report serve as examples of alarming health issues that affect residents across the county, from cradle to grave.

They include:

  • Black infants in Howard County die at double the rate of white infants and black and Latina pregnant women are twice as likely as white women to receive late, or no, prenatal care.
  • Black patients are four times as likely as white patients to be seen in the emergency department for diabetes; additionally, heart disease kills black residents at a rate higher than for any other race.
  • Surveys show Latina youth in Howard County are most at risk of depression and planning a suicide, while white students are least likely.
  • Asian residents are least likely to have an advance directive outlining preferences for medical emergencies or end-of-life care, affecting the care they may receive at their most vulnerable moments.

In truth, most of us working to improve health in Howard County already implicitly understood these trends. But “implicit” isn’t good enough. We believe any real conversation about change must be informed by robust, reliable, disaggregated data, and our report aims to provide that.

Click here to read the full commentary.

Source: The Baltimore Sun written by Nikki Highsmith Vernick president and CEO of Horizon Foundation


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