Op-Ed: Access to health care, education services, still unequal

Far too many people in the black community face unequal access to proper health care and education services

As we celebrate Black History Month, we recognize that far too many African Americans continue to face unequal access to proper health care and education services.

Op-ed submit bugAs a result, African-American women are dying at higher rates than their white counterparts due to breast cancer, cervical cancer, HIV and other illnesses that can be detected early.

As long as there are barriers to economic and educational opportunities, as well as social and political equity, obstacles will also remain in the way of full health care. Fortunately, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is paving the way to change those outcomes.

Since the first open enrollment period, over 1.7 million African Americans have enrolled in the ACA, lowering the uninsured rate by 6.8 percent. The ACA has increased access to preventive health care services at no cost – including annual wellness exams and contraception – and eliminated discrimination against those with a “pre-existing condition” like being HIV-positive, having breast cancer or being a victim of domestic violence.

The history of the reproductive rights movement is as complicated as the nation’s. There’s a saying — “It takes a village” — that recognizes the importance of collective effort in order to advance the community. Throughout our history, Planned Parenthood and the African-American community have worked together to break down barriers to health care access posed by poverty, racism and politics.

We take this opportunity during Black History Month to not only educate people on the advancements in our nation’s health care system, but to also remind ourselves that this work is only successful if we continue to develop partnerships with the communities we serve.

This united work will not only improve health care outcomes for all, but create fair opportunities to succeed in all areas of life.

Kafi Rouse is the director of public relations and marketing for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England.

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