Racial and ethnic health disparities among children in the U.S. are the result of generations of structural racism and require myriad policy solutions to bring about equity, according to a new paper in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health led by Dr. Monique Jindal of the University of Illinois Chicago. The paper focuses on five key systems — housing, employment, health insurance, immigration and criminal justice — and offers policy solutions in each area to bring about change.
The policy solutions the researchers recommend range from the sweeping — such as universal health care for children and those who are pregnant and postpartum — to the more modest, such as allowing children to have free and frequent visits with incarcerated parents to reduce their risk of trauma while separated.
The paper was commissioned by The Lancet and follows a literature review by several of the same authors, including Jindal, laying out the state of inequities in pediatric health in the U.S.
Jindal hopes this new paper’s recommendations reach policymakers across all levels of government. Perhaps it will lead to increased collaborative work across sectors to reach children in need — such as medical centers that also offer legal services to families.
She also hopes pediatric clinicians read it and gain a better understanding of the many social determinants of health that their patients may face, and how they, as doctors, can use their position to advocate for children.