Author Archives: Melba Newsome

About Melba Newsome

Melba Newsome is AHCJ's core topic leader for health equity and a veteran freelance journalist with more than 20 years’ experience. Her health and science features have appeared in Health Affairs, Oprah, Prevention, Scientific American, Chemical & Engineering News and North Carolina Health News.

Understand the political determinants of health when covering health equity

Photo: City of Detroit via Flickr

Natural disasters, wars, and pandemics amplify the health burden among people who are poor or marginalized. They also reveal the flaws in our health care system and expose the ways those inequities can hamper our ability to respond to a crisis.

In his book, “The Political Determinants of Health” (Johns Hopkins University Press, March 2020) and a video presentation to the AMA on Prioritizing Equity, Daniel Dawes makes a convincing case that social determinants of health like housing, transportation, education and access to care are the result of political decisions. Dawes is director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine. Continue reading

Health Disparities 2021 Report documents health inequities by state

America’s Health Rankings/United Health Foundation

Disparities by race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and geographical regions persist in the U.S., despite significant public health advancements, medical breakthroughs and increased access to health care. In fact, health disparities have increased in certain areas, with a profound impact on the nation’s collective health and well-being.

That is the conclusion of the recently released Inaugural America’s Health Rankings Health Disparities 2021 Report from the United Health Foundation. Using 30 measures, the report paints a comprehensive portrait of health inequities and highlights the constant and changing contours of disparities in several subpopulation groups. Continue reading

How Liora Engel-Smith covered efforts to address the resident shortage in Western N.C.

Liora Engel-Smith

Liora Engel-Smith

Rural health care facilities must employ enough professionals to meet the needs of their communities. But maintaining the health care workforce is a problem that goes back a long way. Their professionals need adequate education and training, cultural competency skills, and hold appropriate licensure or certification.

Medical residents who train in cities tend to stay in cities. Some rural providers say that closing the rural-urban physician gap is a matter of luring some residents away from these population centers.

In “Tackling NC’s rural provider shortage, one residency slot at a time,” Liora Engel-Smith looks at the way Mountain Area Health and Education Center (MAHEC) in Western North Carolina recruits and trains rural family medicine residents to provide full-scope primary care services. It might be a model for other rural communities. Continue reading

Rural Health Journalism Workshop great source for story ideas

Rural Health Journalism Workshop 2017

Rural Health Journalism Workshop 2017

After more than 15 years as a general interest writer, I decided to concentrate my reporting on health, with a focus on rural health. Why? Because reporters don’t just get wrong or misunderstand people who live outside cities; we often overlook important stories about them.

For starters, the face of rural and small town is not as monolithic as it’s commonly portrayed. I was born and raised in the Arkansas Delta. Racial and ethnic minorities now make up 19% of non-metro residents in the U.S.

That’s one of the reasons next week’s AHCJ Rural Health Journalism Workshop, a free three-day virtual conference, is such a great opportunity. Continue reading