April 7 is World Health Day, a yearly celebration started over 50 years ago to build awareness around important global health topics. This year’s theme is particularly important.
World Health Day 2021 puts a spotlight on health inequity. It highlights the need for us to address wide disparities in health and healthcare across regions, especially in vulnerable and underserved populations. At Eko, we believe that access to quality care and the standard of living that comes with it should be equal, regardless of where you live, what you believe, or the color of your skin.
Today’s world, however, is largely unequal. Certain parts have flourished, leading to a higher quality of life, while in other parts, attaining basic needs — including healthcare — is still a struggle. Even in developed countries, access to quality care is highly variable depending on where you live, your socioeconomic status, ethnicity, gender, disability status, and sexual orientation. Here in the US, disparity is vast, with some segments of the population having access to the most advanced healthcare services, while other communities still struggle to attain basic care. Recognition is the first step, however, progress will only occur if we start taking action now.
What’s at stake and why we must act
Disparities will continue to widen as the US population grows more diverse. People of color and those living in underserved communities have historically struggled to access quality healthcare and are therefore at risk for poorer outcomes, including high mortality rates from cardiovascular disease.
The good news is, with widespread awareness and a mindset for action, a future with equitable access to quality care is possible. It’s a future that Dr. Antonie Keller has set out to achieve in his home state of Louisiana, wherein certain communities, upwards of 60 to 70 percent of people with heart conditions go untreated. “So many people die of cardiovascular disease before they even know they have it,” Keller said. “Many people aren’t treated medically because they're asymptomatic and then have sudden cardiac death or irreversible complications like heart failure. We want to make sure that we give people every opportunity to have a long, healthy life.”
A practicing cardiothoracic surgeon, and the driving force behind Louisiana-based non-profit, Heart-Sense, Dr. Keller is a great example of clinicians seeking new and creative ways to identify disparities and improve access to care for communities most in need. “Our prevalence study is designed to go to places like barbershops and churches and pharmacies and find people who might not necessarily go to the doctor. We want to give them access to free screening and find out how many of these people in the population actually have valvular heart disease that we would never know about.” Keller said.
Read our blog to learn more about Dr. Keller and his work.
Working to do our part
Our mission at Eko is to transform the way healthcare providers detect and treat cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. Helping doctors reduce mortality from these diseases would be a major success, however, it would be insufficient if only select populations benefited. To ensure that providers in all communities have the tools they need to deliver exceptional care, we’ve developed a program to help providers who focus on the most vulnerable and underserved communities.
Eko Cares is our social impact initiative through which we provide products, services, and support to healthcare providers globally, whose mission is to care for underserved communities. Our annual goal is to donate up to $200,000 worth of Eko products annually through partnerships with non-profit, community-based healthcare organizations that are primarily supporting underserved communities.
Our 2021 Eko Cares initiative is currently open and accepting new applicants. In order to qualify, applicants must be a registered US or Canadian non-profit organization. Nonprofits conducting international work may apply so long as they have a U.S. or Canadian registration number. Applicants must be or be partnered with a registered healthcare provider/organization focused on delivering care to underserved communities.
With Eko Cares, we want to support the incredible work our providers do every day to ensure equitable access to quality care for all communities. Interested in applying? View our application and terms and conditions here.