By Jennifer Farrington, Senior Director of Social Investing and Vice President of the BD Foundation
It has been shown that racial, societal and economic factors have a direct impact on people’s health and their ability to access needed health care and other resources. For example, multiple studies show that Black people experience higher rates of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease1, are more likely to die from treatable conditions, and live fewer years, on average, than white people.2
At BD, we recognize that working toward our purpose of Advancing the world of healthTM means taking steps to understand and address the root cause of these health disparities, so we can address them. That’s why we’re committed to collaborating with, and investing our resources in, communities and NGOs to help them understand and address the racial, societal and economic factors that influence people’s health.
To address health equity, we first need to understand it
In honor of this year’s Black History Month theme of “Black Health and Wellness,” we’re proud to underscore our commitment to advancing health equity by highlighting our $500,000 investment in an innovative initiative spearheaded by Americares and the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (NAFC), which seeks to reduce health inequities among patients served by free and charitable clinics in the United States – a disproportionate percentage of whom (64%) are racial or ethnic minorities.
In the U.S., more than 2 million low-income, uninsured and underinsured patients rely on free and charitable clinics for their health care. Unlike federally funded clinics, free clinics often rely solely on volunteers and private donations to sustain operations. These healthcare heroes serve as a lifeline for individuals striving to support their families, including adults who don’t qualify for government assistance and cannot afford health insurance. Without free and charitable clinics, many patients would utilize emergency rooms for basic health care needs or go without care.
As BD Chairman, CEO and President Tom Polen said, when we announced this partnership with Americares and NAFC late last year, “Investing in the health of our communities is a pillar of the BD environmental, social and governance strategy. By supporting this important, first-of-its-kind initiative, we’re helping to empower U.S. free and charitable clinics to measure and track the degree to which their health care services are effectively addressing inequity, so we can determine where additional support is needed to ensure more equitable health care quality and access for all.”
This initiative, which is being implemented with support from Loyal University Chicago, is the first national effort to collect data that measures the quality of care provided by free and charitable clinics.
As Americares Vice President of U.S. Programs Edith Lee notes, achieving health equity—care that does not vary in quality because of someone’s race, gender, income, abilities, or location—requires a multi-faceted approach.
“Achieving health equity requires the ability to collect and analyze data to determine if there are differing health outcomes for different groups. It requires a deeper learning and understanding of health equity and the factors that influence health outcomes. It requires developing strategies and tools to address these factors that influence health outcomes,” said Edith when we announced this investment late last year. “Thanks to the generous support of BD, we can continue and expand this ground-breaking effort.”
Look for continued BD social investments in health equity
While this $500,000 donation to Americares is our latest social investment that focuses on health equity, it’s certainly not the first. BD and the BD Foundation have to date committed $26.8 million to help another NGO partner, Direct Relief, and U.S. community health centers expand health equity by delivering quality care to uninsured and underinsured patients who otherwise would not be able to afford it, through the Helping Build Healthy Communities Program. We have also made health equity-related philanthropic investments in the YWCA in NAFC of honor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. And increasingly, many other broader social investments, like the $500,000 we committed late last year to support the American Cancer Society’s Return to (Cancer) Screening initiative, acknowledge that many healthcare issues – ranging from cancer to COVID-19 – have a disproportionately negative impact on Black patients and other underserved groups. Learn more about BD’s commitment to advancing health equity here and follow BD on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
1 Elizabeth Arias et al., Provisional Life Expectancy Estimates for 2020 (NCHS Vital Statistics Rapid Release, July 2021); and Elizabeth Arias et al., “Mortality Profile of the Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native Population, 2019,” National Vital Statistics Reports 70, no. 12 (Nov. 2021).
2 Jesse C. Baumgartner et al., Inequities in Health and Health Care in Black and Latinx/Hispanic Communities: 23 Charts (Commonwealth Fund, June 2021; and “Disparities Fact Sheet,” Indian Health Service, Oct. 2019.
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