The CDC Foundation and the Satcher Health Leadership Institute (SHLI) at Morehouse School of Medicine today announced a partnership to address the health equity implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Support for this program is provided by the CDC Foundation’s COVID-19 emergency response fund.
In the United States over 115,000 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 and morbidity and mortality rates continue to rise. Preliminary data has demonstrated that racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionately impacted by the disease. However, to date, it has been challenging in the midst of the emergency to consistently collect demographic data on COVID-19 cases, including for race and ethnicity. As such, efforts to advance health equity are hindered by under-reporting of data on racial/ethnic minorities, socioeconomic status, disability or mental health status, and other disparity markers of at-risk populations.
To combat this issue, the SHLI and the CDC Foundation will establish a Health Equity Task Force (HETF) devoted to monitoring and assessing the disparate impacts on vulnerable populations, including, but not limited to racial/ethnic minorities, people living with disabilities, and those of lower socioeconomic status. A COVID-19 data consortium will be created to ensure the standardization of COVID-19 data at the national, state and local level. There are four key components to this program.
Working with Google.org, the HETF will establish a multisector data consortium devoted to COVID-19 impact on vulnerable populations and provide summary data to understand select geographic, racial and socio-economic disparities, and social determinants of health at the individual, county, state, and national levels.
Develop standardized, evidence-based best practices for developing socio-culturally responsive resources and provide technical assistance to local and state health organizations to improve their COVID-19 responses, data collection, reporting, planning, mitigation strategies, screening and contact tracing.
Analyze jurisdictional policies, which either exacerbate or alleviate COVID-19 outcomes, related to testing, contact tracing, resource allocation/management and jurisdictions’ response and mitigation strategies and overall implications for health equity for populations.
Understand the mental/behavioral health equity impact of COVID-19.
“We are pleased to be working with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute on this critical program,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO, CDC Foundation. “For us to truly overcome COVID-19 and future pandemics, we must understand how this pandemic impacts all populations as well as build strategies inclusive to all. We must ensure that the data is accurate and comprehensive and is accessible to make the appropriate decisions.”
Disparities in health outcomes for vulnerable populations have been present for many years. Minority groups suffer with higher rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma, obesity and other conditions that make them more susceptible to the effects of COVID-19. This initiative will help to examine the disparate nature of this pandemic and other diseases with solutions and implications towards equitable outcomes.
“As we continue to research the enduring disparities in health status and health care among disproportionately impacted populations during this COVID-19 pandemic, we collectively recognize the importance of compiling accurate and precise information to best protect these vulnerable communities. We are excited to partner with the CDC Foundation to address the drivers of health inequities. Our combined efforts will lead us towards systemic policy change, which will move us closer to achieving health equity in America.” said Daniel E. Dawes, JD, the director of Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine.