Lois Dankwa: “Our responsibility to long- neglected communities is to address health care’s systemic failures.”
Today, Lois Dankwa, Public Engagement Manager at United States of Care, shared her thoughts on our responsibility to reverse the failures of current systems. Read her letter to our organization’s partners, public leaders, and stakeholders below:
The current state of our nation is a reminder of why I advocate for effective health care systems that advance affordability, equity, and quality.
The persistence of racism comes as no surprise to me – I have experienced racism and have witnessed its impact on the lives of my loved ones. Most exhausting and egregious is racism’s truly damaging effects for communities of color. Many systems rely on frameworks which inadequately address the needs of people of color, or dismiss them all together, ultimately devastating entire communities across generations. Even in our own work, we’ve seen this exemplified in COVID-19 death rates for Black and Latinx communities in the United States, in comparison to other racial groups.
My desire to reverse such negative outcomes is one reason I have devoted my career to developing solutions toward reliable health care for underserved and high-need individuals, in spite of complex social challenges and structural barriers. While it is disappointing to see so many people underserved by health services, I believe that meaningful solutions to close such gaps can emerge through collaboration of individuals, and the health entities that serve them.
Through our listening work at United States of Care, we are dedicated to talking to people across the country to understand their individual struggles and experiences within the health care system. This is the department I work in and helped shape. We continue to see that it is essential to amplify different perspectives in order to develop people-centered solutions that will be long-lasting. Policy efforts are futile without direct input from the people whose livelihoods are most impacted by decisions. We must all continue to seek participation and guidance from diverse perspectives and remain engaged throughout all levels of the solutioning process.
Our responsibility to long- neglected communities is to address health care’s systemic failures. This requires action through patience, empathy, and fervor. Dismantling familiar practices that are so ingrained throughout our society will take time. But I am hopeful that, as we remain introspective and continue to question the status quo, we can reverse the failures of current systems that have inadequately addressed needs of communities of color. This type of commitment to calling out internal and external biases will ultimately contribute to a more just and equitable care system that works for the health and wellbeing of everyone.
Thank you and continue to stay safe,
Lois Dankwa, Public Engagement Manager