The healthcare system plays an imperative role in the overall well-being of people of determination, yet their needs are often unmet or unattended to as a result of existing health disparity.
Health disparity refers to the preventable or avoidable differences in health outcomes as a result of socioeconomic or environmental disadvantages of particular populations. In the PoD context, critics used to dismiss the notion of health disparities in people with disabilities in the past, with the argument that the resulting poor health is associated directly with the condition of disability. However, with prudent evaluation and investigation, it has been demonstrated that there exists differences in health outcomes that are preventable and unjust in PoD. Therefore, PoD should be considered a health disparity population, and such recognition will hopefully lead to concerted governmental policies and efforts to alleviate the severity of such disparities.
Multiple evidences have demonstrated that PoD fair worse than those with no disabilities across a broad range of indicators or determinants of health, such as healthcare access, health behaviors, the annual number of new cases of diagnosed diabetes, etc. They are also shown to be more susceptible to obesity, cardiovascular diseases, injury (both unintentional and violent), mental distress, and less likely to receive preventive care. Adults with disabilities are four-times more likely to rate their health as fair or poor than those without disabilities.
Several recommendations have been made to help reduce existing disparity and improve the quality of life of PoD. Improving PoD’s access to healthcare services through equipping healthcare facilities with the capacity to accommodate their disabilities will ameliorate the issue of incomplete delivery of medical examinations and treatments. Increased relevant data will facilitate policy, decision making and further aid the discernment of the cause of health differences, as well as the most optimal interventions. Strengthening the capacity of healthcare providers through training will help mitigate inadequate care delivery due to erroneous assumptions and stereotypes. Promoting inclusion of PoD in public health programs will reduce both social stigma and isolation (Krahn et al. 2015).
It is indisputable that PoD experience unjust health disparity that leads to undesirable health outcomes. To have a significant and positive effect, health promotion programs aiming to alleviate health disparity should engage all levels of stakeholders, including the PoD individual, institution (healthcare providers), community, and governmental policies.