On November 17, 2015 activists from all over the state gathered in the State House’s Nurses Hall in recognition of Diabetes Day. A growing and costly problem in Massachusetts, speakers addressed the consequences and the burdens of living with this chronic illness. Rebekah Gewirtz, MPHA executive director, spoke from the public health perspective about the need to go “upstream” to address the root causes of the illness and combat the inequities that are causing it.
Diabetes is a disease that disproportionately effects those living in low-income communities of color. Many of these communities are food deserts where access to affordable healthy food is severely limited. Rebekah talked about the need to fund the Massachusetts Food Trust Program so grocery stores can enter communities most in need of healthy food options and so corner stores can expand to include more healthy options. This initiative would attack one of the leading causes of poor health and create more economic vitality in communities that are often lacking good jobs with decent wages. In addition, MPHA is in support of a bill (H1888) being promoted at the event that would create a diabetes state action plan. We know if we don’t start addressing in a concerted way the root causes of poor health, diabetes rates will continue to rise, communities will become more and more burdened, and inequities will continue to escalate.
Check out the MPHA policy agenda to see the ways we are addressing health inequity in ALL of our work!