News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. May 19, 2023: In a recent study published in JAMA, researchers have drawn attention to the stark racial inequities in mortality in the United States, revealing that higher mortality rates among Black Americans have resulted in a staggering 1.63 million excess deaths compared to white Americans over the past two decades.
The study also showcased the cumulative loss of more than 80 million years of life for the Black population, attributed to their higher mortality rates during the period from 1999 to 2020, NBC News reported.
The study’s findings underscore the urgent need to address the health disparities faced by Black Americans, including higher rates of heart disease, cancer, and infant mortality. The authors emphasize that these alarming statistics serve as a call to action, urging for concrete efforts to improve the health outcomes and life expectancy of Black individuals.
Although progress was made in narrowing the gap between white and Black mortality rates between 1999 and 2011, this advancement stalled from 2011 to 2019. Tragically, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately impacted Black Americans, erased two decades of progress made in closing the gap.
The study highlights that the high mortality rates among Black individuals are not primarily due to genetics but are rooted in the long-standing history of systemic discrimination. Generations of Black people have faced limited educational, housing, and job opportunities, resulting in significant disparities in health outcomes.
These racial disparities are deeply ingrained and persist even among individuals with higher education and wealth. Factors such as systemic racism and the chronic stress it engenders are believed to contribute to the disproportionate toll on the health of Black mothers, who are more than three times as likely to die from pregnancy-related complications compared to non-Hispanic white mothers.
The impact of premature death goes beyond the individual, as it ripples through communities, affecting the mental and physical well-being of friends and family. Research has shown that every death leaves an average of nine individuals in mourning, and Black individuals, given their higher mortality rates throughout their lives, are more likely to experience the loss of a close family member at any point in time.
The study also estimates that racial and ethnic inequities in health cost the United States a staggering $421 billion in 2018, encompassing medical expenses, lost productivity, and premature death.