All School Day 2013: Does Wealth Mean Better Health?

This year’s All School Day for all USC School of Social Work students will highlight the important issue of health disparities, which social workers are likely to face sometime during their careers.

The term “disparities” is often interpreted to mean racial or ethnic disparities, but there are many dimensions of disparity within the United States health care system. Healthy People 2020, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services program, defines a health disparity as “a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic and/or environmental disadvantage.” These disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to obtaining health care due to discrimination.

Despite ongoing efforts to reduce health disparities in the United States, racial and ethnic disparities in both health and health care persist. Even when income, health insurance and access to care are accounted for, disparities remain. Low performance on a range of health indicators, such as infant mortality, life expectancy, prevalence of chronic disease and insurance coverage, reveal differences between racial and ethnic minority populations and their white counterparts. Here are some examples of health disparities according to the National Conference on State Legislatures:

● Infants born to black women are 1.5 to three times more likely to die than those born to women of other races/ethnicities, and American Indian and Alaska Native infants die from SIDS at nearly 2.5 times the rate of white infants.
● Cancer is the second leading cause of death for most racial and ethnic minorities. African-American men are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer than whites, and Hispanic women are more than 1.5 times as likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer.
● African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives are twice as likely to have diabetes as white individuals. Diabetes rates among Hispanics are 1.5 times higher than those of whites.

The keynote speaker for All School Day 2013 will be Winston F. Wong, medical director of community benefit and director of disparities and quality initiatives at Kaiser Permanente. The panel will also include Hortensia Amaro, dean’s professor of social work and preventative medicine and associate vice provost for community research initiatives; William A. Vega, provost professor and executive director of USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging; and Rosalyn Morrell, radiation oncologist at Advanced Radiation Center of Beverly Hills..

All School Day was born out of the 1992 civil unrest in Los Angeles and brings together on-campus and online students (via webcast) to recognize and celebrate diversity through an exchange of ideas that unites participants in an atmosphere of cooperation, respect and inclusion. This event, co-led by students and faculty, encourages discussion about how we can better communicate across differences of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, social class and disability.

As with all aspects of student life, the USC School of Social Work invites MSW@USC students to participate in All School Day 2013 on campus or virtually. It is only through bringing all of our knowledge and experiences together that we can hope to adequately address the greatest challenges facing us.

For more information about this event, click here to visit the USC School of Social Work Events listings.