Q: I am a mother of two, and grandmother of 6 and I recently read that New Mexico is ranked near the bottom of all 50 states for many childhood health care indicators. What I can I do to help?
A: Vote like your child’s future depends on it!
Depending on one’s view of the world, this missive is either somewhat true or completely true. Either way, it’s true.
Policies affecting our environment, educational system, personal safety, ability to get jobs and ability to advocate for our rights and freedoms all affect our children’s futures. These policies impact children’s access to health care, the availability of well-educated pediatric trained providers, and the ability to afford medications and treatments that may be required.
All this falls under the concept of health equity. Children are dependent on their caregivers to access health care, and any situation which impedes the caregiver from doing so has a negative impact on children’s health.
School-based health centers try to address this need. But even that resource is limited during these strange times of limited school attendance and staffing. Populations with restricted resources have children with higher rates of obesity, asthma and diabetes, among other things.
Examples of restricted resources include joblessness or very low salary, homelessness or housing insecurity, food insecurity, availability of child care givers, ability to take time off of work, ability to buy medications, and finally, the ability to navigate our complex and confusing health care system.
Through no fault of their own, these children suffer a health care disadvantage from a very early age, which can impact their growth, development and ability to grow into healthy, independent adults. Any policies that affect access to health care (enough hospital beds and doctors), public health resources (such as SARS-CoV-2 testing), education (understanding why testing and quarantining are important), housing (crowding increases virus transmission), and nutrition will impact the health of children.
Policies that acknowledge health inequity, and look for ways to improve access to quality health care, will positively impact child health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is advocating for parents and caregivers to actively participate in the voting process through a campaign called “Get Out the Vote.” The AAP is a nonpartisan organization which believes that children should have optimal health and well-being and be valued by society.
Its mission is to attain optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults. They work at many levels to achieve this goal.
At the provider level, AAP provides excellent…