Inequity in Neurology - World Health Day 2021
Today is World Health Day. Every year, April 7th is marked by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as an opportunity to help raise awareness for issues within the world of medicine. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain medical inequalities have become more pronounced than ever and this year they wanted to use World Health Day to address these inequalities.
Unfortunately, not all people have equal access to healthcare. Often factors outside of their control, such as their age, the job they do, the circumstances of their birth, and so on, will have a detrimental effect on their access to healthcare services. Consequently, people in that situation also lead unhealthier lives and are more likely to see health issues go untreated.
These inequalities effect all fields of medicine, including neurology. Here are a few examples of the inequalities currently facing neurology patients:
Women with autism are less likely to have the disorder diagnosed than men. (Source: National Autistic Society)
People of colour are more likely to suffer a stroke than white people. (Source: The Lancet Neurology)
There are significant disparities between women and men in the clinical presentation of several neurological disorders. (Source: European Academy of Neurology)
People living in financial hardship are at an increased risk of mental health problems and lower mental wellbeing. (Source: Mental Health Foundation)
A person’s level of education can determine the level of access they have to mental health services. (Source: American Psychological Association)
These five points are by no means comprehensive, but they serve to illustrate just how broad and varied the issues of inequality within Neurology are. Though, of course, no problem exist without a solution and various healthcare professionals have attempted to tackle inequality in neurology through various means.
The American Academy of Neurology has taken steps to address this problem through education. They approach this in two ways: firstly, any neurologist in training is thoroughly taught about the hidden populations and minorities who suffer from medical inequity. With these issues in the forefront throughout their entire medical career, this next generation of neurologists will be well equipped to ensure that they are providing a healthcare experience which is as inclusive as possible.
Additionally, they strive to ensure that the students at the academy come from diverse backgrounds themselves. With more professional neurologists from minority backgrounds working in the field, the perspectives of these groups at large are more likely to be recognised. Additionally, the presence of people of a similar background to the patients may a cause for reassurance in some cases.
Getting neurology on the agenda
Neurological disorders can create a huge burden for people, but as WHO have identified, they are often not regarded in the same way as other illnesses. Indeed, neurological conditions remain largely absent from the international health agenda.
WHO believe that it is imperative for neurology to be considered equal to other fields of medicine and to be allocated the same funds and resources. With neurology efforts increased, it will allow for evidence-based investigations into the impact of neurological disorders on hidden populations and minorities who suffer disproportionately. For neurologists, that simply means advocating the value and importance of your work. Perhaps, in time, these inequalities can be overcome.
Don’t miss Neuro Convention on the 15th and 16th of September. This is an opportunity for you to hear about the latest technologies and perspectives from the world of neurology. We have a range of incredible speakers and exhibitors lined up and you won’t want to miss this chance to learn from industry-leading experts and refine the quality of healthcare you can provide. Register for free now!