Our Why: Investing in Health & Wellness

The Challenge

When it comes to health, we are not all equal. Health equity means ensuring that everyone has an equal shot at living a healthy life. We haven’t yet achieved this. Marginalized communities experience worse health outcomes and are less likely to receive the medical care they need. Significant health disparities continue to exist across many dimensions (e.g., race, gender, age, location, disability status, and sexual orientation) and are evidence of systemic structural inequities that affect both individual and community health and well-being.

According to the World Health Organization, at least half of the world lacks access to essential health services, and large numbers of households are being pushed into extreme poverty each year because of health expenses.[1] Underserved populations, unsurprisingly, face increased barriers to healthcare and wellness services. Low-income individuals in the U.S. are less likely to have health insurance or to pursue primary or specialty care and are at increased risk for mental health problems.[2]

Education, environment, and housing also play significant roles in health and wellness. Americans with less education tend to experience higher rates of heart disease and diabetes.[3] Living in inadequate housing can expose people to allergens and overcrowding and also contributes to many preventable diseases and injuries.[4] In addition, people who live in underserved communities are often faced with high crime rates, have fewer outdoor spaces to play and exercise, and experience higher rates of substance abuse.[5]

A few facts:

  • The life expectancy of Black Americans is four years lower than that of White Americans[6]
  • Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than White women[7]
  • Black American men are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer compared to non-Hispanic white men[8]
  • Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth in grades 7-12 are more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their non-LGBTQ+ peers[9]
  • Undernutrition is responsible for more than a third of all child deaths under the age of five worldwide[10]
  • Globally, 2.2 billion people lack safely managed drinking water[11]

Why It Matters

We all deserve to live healthy, productive lives, and investing in improvements in health and wellness positively impact individuals, communities, and society as a whole. Affordable, accessible healthcare, for example, leads to more equitable health outcomes and saves lives. Investing in nutrition and safe water improves public health and economic development. Promoting mental health increases productivity and improves quality of life.

A few facts:

  • High quality health systems worldwide could prevent 2.5 million deaths from cardiovascular disease, 900,000 deaths from tuberculosis, 1 million newborn deaths, and half of all maternal deaths each year[1]
  • Investing in mental health creates better physical health outcomes, stronger families, and increases economic productivity[2]
  • Every dollar invested in water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions gives a $4.30 return in the form of reduced health care costs, reduced pollution of water and land resources, and gains in quality of life[3]
  • Preventive care services could save over 100,000 lives in the U.S. every year[4]
  • Telehealth visits have saved 50 million miles of travel, 2.2 million gallons of gas, 25 tons of waste that would have been generated during visits, and 17,500 metric tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere[5]






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[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/quality-health-services
[2] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/10/good-mental-health-is-the-foundation-of-happy-healthy-and-productive-lives/#:~:text=There%20could%20be%20at%20least,200%2C000%20deaths%20could%20be%20avoided.
[3] https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/wash_statistics.html#thirteen
[4] https://healthjournalism.org/resources-reports-details.php?id=27
[5] https://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/telehealth-can-play-vital-role-reducing-carbon-emissions
[1] https://www.who.int/news/item/13-12-2017-world-bank-and-who-half-the-world-lacks-access-to-essential-health-services-100-million-still-pushed-into-extreme-poverty-because-of-health-expenses
[2] https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hpb20180817.901935/full/
[3] https://societyhealth.vcu.edu/work/the-projects/education-it-matters-more-to-health-than-ever-before.html
[4] https://health.gov/healthypeople/priority-areas/social-determinants-health/literature-summaries/quality-housing
[5] https://societyhealth.vcu.edu/work/the-projects/why-education-matters-to-health-exploring-the-causes
[6] https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/whatis/index.html
[7] https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/maternal-mortality/index.html
[8] https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=16
[9] https://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/suicide-violence-prevention.htm
[10] https://www.unicef.cn/en/press-releases/one-third-children-developing-world-are-stunted-malnutrition
[11] https://sdgs.un.org/topics/water-and-sanitation

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