Fellowship helps SPHTM assistant professor shine brighter light on health inequity issue

David Gladow
Andrew Anderson

Andrew Anderson, an assistant professor in the Health Policy and Management Department in the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, has released a new publication that outlines the connection between health inequities and the costs incurred by America’s healthcare system.

“The Costs Of Disparities In Preventable Heart Failure Hospitalizations In The US South, 2015–17” came together in part through Anderson’s Health Equity Fellowship (HEFT) for Trainees, an initiative of Health Affairs.

HEFT aims to help increase the quantity and quality of manuscripts published by people from backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented among Health Affairs authors, while cultivating future health equity research leaders.

The partnership has subsequently led to a guest column in Forefront, a podcast appearance, and an upcoming Lunch & Learn event on May 23.

“The Health Affairs HEFT program brings together scholars dedicated to promoting equity through health policy research,” Anderson said. “The program helped our team refine our message to be relevant to decisionmakers working on public policy.”

That element, of making sure the communication was on point, was doubly important when the message itself was so critical.

“There are both moral and economic reasons to address health inequities,” Anderson added. “The goal of this work was to highlight the costs of ignoring health disparities.”

As Anderson pointed out, most southern states in the study include counties that are part of the Heart Failure belt. That area overlaps with a geographic region known as the Black Belt (known for its fertile black soil) that has a history of forced labor for cotton and tobacco production, a region also typified by high rates of poverty, lack of education, and mortality.

The implication is clear. Historically suppressed individuals are at greater risk of heart trouble. A lack of recognition of that issue creates a bigger cost for the healthcare system.

Those interested in attending the Lunch & Learn can register here.