5 ways to combat health risks associated with residential segregation

Residential segregation between whites and blacks or Hispanics in the same community persists all over the U.S., and it continues to affect the well-being of people of color and the health of a community, according to a recent blog from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The blog was authored by RWJF Vice President-Program Donald Schwarz, MD.

Dr. Schwartz pointed out that when neighborhoods are segregated, it's not uncommon for schools, public services, jobs and other opportunities to be segregated as well. To address this issue, RWJF and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in Madison included a new measure on racial segregation in its "2016 County Health Rankings" report.

The report shows blacks and Hispanics who live in highly segregated and isolated neighborhoods experience greater stress and risk of illness and death due to lower housing quality, higher concentrations of poverty and less access to good jobs and education.

According to Dr. Schwartz, the following five strategies may help reduce the health risks caused by segregation and create more equitable, healthier communities.

1. Identify the most pressing health needs in every community, and prioritize investments in those areas.

2. Boost access to safe, affordable housing and financing and eliminate housing discrimination.

3. Make sure safe and reliable public transportation is accessible to everyone.

4. Develop jobs with wages that allow people to support themselves and their families.

5. Increase access to healthy food in every community.

"Getting to these and other solutions requires creativity, collaboration and authentic engagement of all people in a community — a top-down approach just won't do," wrote Dr. Schwartz.



More articles on health disparities:
The new look of diversity in healthcare: Where we are and where we're headed
A look at healthcare in Freddie Gray's Baltimore: 5 major takeaways
CDC report features programs that reduce health disparities in the US

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