For health funders, it is essential that we realize that even given all of the unforeseen devastation of COVID-19, and the compounding social crises in its wake, many of our communities began 2020 already in a health crisis. These pre-existing conditions allowed a global pandemic that does not discriminate to produce drastically disproportionate health implications from community to community and population to population. Social conditions completely determine the resilience of a community’s residents to the health and social impacts of the virus and an individual’s ability to practice safe health behaviors.

At Quantum Foundation we are applying a health equity lens to our work. It is clear through data, conversations, and a deeper understanding of our local history that not all communities provide residents equal opportunities to live a quality, healthy life. In fact, systemic exclusionary policies and institutionalized exploitative practices perpetuate health and social disparities in some communities to a degree that philanthropic and public resources are in constant demand to treat the symptoms, however they often miss the root causes. Further exacerbated by intergenerational and structural lack of opportunity for upward mobility, these communities are often left overserved yet underinvested and without equitable life outcomes.

Prior to the pandemic, these communities lacked appropriate health care access, affordable housing, quality education, economic mobility, or employment systems that were accessible or easy to navigate. The lack of resources physically located in these communities have created a chasm, separating residents from the equitable opportunities needed to improve the trajectory of their quality of life expectancy.

These existing gaps in access to opportunity, compounded by the rapid shift to online services in health care, education, employment and social services, have further expanded equity gaps. Additionally, unmanageable burdens have been placed on health care, nonprofit, and grassroots providers.

Read the full article about health equity during COVID-19 by Eric Kelly at Grantmakers In Health.