Health Equity




Nutrition Insecurity

An issue we are seeing more of is child obesity with 170 million children being overweight worldwide. Since 1980, the rate of child obesity in the U.S. has more than doubled and quadrupled for adolescents. Food marketing plays a role in children’s food selections and diets, especially the marketing of unhealthy foods. The current annual economic costs of obesity are estimated at about $2 trillion, according to the Lancet Commissions Report. The pandemic has reinforced the need and demand for affordable and accessible healthy products. It has also impacted the conflicting economic and health issues experienced by Black, Latinx, and indigenous communities in the U.S.

Food as Medicine

There are many ancient cultures, including Chinese, Ancient Greek, Indian and Native American, which share a holistic belief that diseases are caused by the improper flow of the body’s vital energies. These cultures use food as a form of medicine or as a contribution to improve a person’s health. In the 80s and 90s, people grew interested in the advancement of food’s impact on disease occurred during the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Physicians and researchers also began paying more attention to the relationship between nutrition and physical health. In the 2000s, documentaries began to chronicle the relationship between food and health in films such as Super-Size Me, Forks Over Knives, and The Magic Pill. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration reported in 2019 that more than half of American households used the internet for health-related activities. In the age of social media, many are in search of food-based ways to prevent, manage and treat diseases. Plant-based diets which are eating patterns that emphasize the consumption of foods derived from plants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc., have gained more attention in recent years and show a change in how Americans understand and approach food.

Equitable Access to Medicine

Many Americans have experienced the hardship of escalating costs of prescription drugs. Some people have skipped filling a prescription or changed their spending habits in other areas due to drug costs. The lack of transparency around pricing strategies from leading companies in the pharmaceutical industry has caused one in four adults in the U.S. today to not fill a prescription, cut pills in half, or skip doses because of cost.

According to a McKinsey report, prescription drugs in the U.S. cost 50% more than equivalent products in The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, presenting a threat to public health and the economy.

With Covid-19, the CDC says that Black and Latinx residents in the U.S. are 3 times as likely to become infected and twice likely to die from Covid as their white neighbors. The increased rates of infections found in these groups are led by several factors—health and safety protection while working, accessibility to work remotely, access to paid sick leave, access to transportation, living conditions, and nutritional accessibility.

Domestic and Global Health Challenges

Domestic Health

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act was authorized to forward the nation in providing accessible, affordable, quality healthcare. Millions continue to lack access to affordable coverage. In 2020, the CDC found that 31.6 million people of all ages were uninsured. 31.2 million of those were under the age of 65.

2019 showed prices on more than 250 prescription drugs increased by 6% or more and insulin prices doubled. Ongoing price increases have caused 1 in 4 Americans to struggle to afford their prescription drugs. A few ways people have been able to afford medication include shopping for cheaper deals, buying from smaller pharmacies, and buying generic drugs.

Global Health

As of 2019, global vaccination rates for the most common childhood diseases stalled and have still not reached the 95% needed to prevent new outbreaks. In 2018, 20 million children—1 in 10—worldwide failed to get the full dosage of vaccinations needed to protect against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and measles. Data shows children in the poorest countries suffer from the lowest rates of vaccinations and countries experiencing prolonged conflict also have low rates. Wellcome, a UK foundation, found that 1 in 5 people globally lack confidence in the safety of vaccines.

According to the Bloomberg Covid-19 vaccine tracker, as of August 18, 2022, globally 12.5 billion shots have been given. At the rate of distribution, it will take another 8 months until 75% of the global population receives at least 1 dose. Since the start of the global vaccination campaign, countries have received unequal access to vaccines and varying degrees of success in getting shots distributed. Countries with the highest incomes have been vaccinated 10 times quicker than countries with the lowest. Delivering additional doses to some of the world’s lowest-income nations still remains a huge global health challenge.

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