Produced in collaboration with Experience by Design. We are witnessing a moment in our lifetimes that we will hopefully never see again. The world is gripped in a pandemic of a scale unseen for a century. Beyond the human toll, we are seeing how healthcare systems people once had trust in crumble before their eyes. In this episode, Adam and Gary talk with Shelley White and Meenakshi Verma-Agrawal of the Simmons University Masters of Public Health program on what we learn from this moment, and how we can design a more inclusive healthcare system.
Shelley White is an Assistant Professor of Public Health and Sociology, and Program Director of the Master of Public Health.
Meenakshi Verma-Agrawal is the Assistant Program Director and Associate Professor of Practice at MPH@Simmons.
What a difference a week makes. Or does it? With the expanding pandemic of COVID-19 disrupting more lives, many here in the United States might feel caught off guard, or that things have changed to rapidly. Now health care is a constant concern.
What Shelley White and Meenakshi Verma-Agrawal help us put in perspective is that even though we can all get sick, public health and care has always been political, and who has access to care, and even what diagnoses one gets, have been deeply tied to class, race, ethnicity and other socioeconomic classifications. Public health, in fact, is designed. Moments of pandemic, where a virus crosses borders and bodies with no care for the social structures we’ve erected, brings to light the radically unequal way our public health systems are designed. For middle class families who find themselves for the first time concerned about the lack of available health care or beds at a hospital, must now contend with the fact that this is a common reality for many poorer communities and communities of color.
But moments of crisis like this are also moments of hope. As Dr. White notes in the conversation, we have to remember that there are more people who seek equity and change than those who benefit from the status quo. What's radical is to acknowledge the racial, social, and economic injustices that frame our public health system and to then set about to change those inequities for a more just world.