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American Diabetes Association Launches Campaign for Health Equity

Updated: 8/14/21 12:00 amPublished: 8/17/20

By Lorena Bergstrom

ADA’s #HealthEquityNow focuses on ensuring that all people with diabetes have the right to health, quality care, and medical resources; the Health Equity Bill of Rights lays out ten basic rights for people with diabetes or prediabetes

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recently launched a campaign to address health inequity, encouraging people with diabetes to make their voices heard. The #HealthEquityNow platform aims to ensure that all people with diabetes – especially underserved populations who are at risk – have access to health resources and care. The program is a call to action for healthcare leaders and policymakers, in response to the major health disparities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent protests over racial injustice. It empowers people to speak out, share important information, and advocate for policy changes. Watch the campaign’s video here.

The pandemic is shining a light on inequality in the American healthcare system. COVID-19 disproportionately affects people of color, low-income individuals, and people with diabetes (among other pre-existing conditions). These groups are both more likely to contract the virus and more likely to lack access to high-quality medical care. People of color experience diabetes and its complications at a rate twice as high as white Americans. Ethnic and racial minorities are much more likely to lack insurance, to experience poverty, and to face discrimination in healthcare. Increasingly, people with diabetes are unable to afford insulin and other important medications, particularly as unemployment increases due to COVID-19. #HealthEquityNow advocates for lower prescription costs and wider access to quality care.

Diabetes risk is known to increase as income declines, due to a variety of factors including food insecurity and lack of other resources. To address this, ADA emphasizes screening for food insecurity, expanding access to fresh food, and raising awareness of food assistance programs like SNAP.

The ADA’s Health Equity Bill of Rights establishes ten basic rights for people with diabetes and prediabetes, to promote their human right to health. These rights include access to affordable insulin and other medications, healthy food, insurance that covers diabetes management, and the latest medical advances. It also includes the right to stop prediabetes from becoming diabetes and the right to avoid discrimination. Read the full Health Equity Bill of Rights.

To accomplish these goals, #HealthEquityNow focuses on five key areas of action: cure, care, cost, cuisine, and connect. This means researching cures that will better serve people of color, increasing access to high-quality care among underserved communities, and reducing the cost of medications and supplies. Through cuisine, the program aims to meet the nutritional needs of people with diabetes or prediabetes, and provide access to healthy, culturally relevant food. Perhaps most important, the campaign promises to connect with communities of color and empower everyone to become advocates.

How can you help fight for health equity? The campaign suggests several strategies:

  • Write a letter urging your governor or local official to support health equity

  • Share information on social media

  • Donate to the #HealthEquityNow campaign

ADA CEO Tracey Brown sums it up perfectly: “Quality, affordable health care should not be a privilege, but a right for all Americans. It is time to tear down the systemic barriers that separate us based on zip code, income level, education, color and gender, and it’s time that we demand health equity now.”

What do you think?