We Can’t Afford To Let Our Health Decline

Health should be a one of the priorities for Black people and it's time to take care of it

Jessica Shepherd is a assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and director of minimally invasive gynecology at the university of Chicago, and she has a message to every black women, men and children.

Education and health are probably the two things that we need to be in tune with most over these next four years. Part of that is being responsible for our own health and empowering ourselves and people in our community to take charge. It’s definitely a time when we have to reach back and pull up oth­ers within our community, writes the Ebony magazine.

People should be preventive and go to their primary care provider early in the year to at least see where they are as far as health care and reproductive care. The one thing you don’t want is to not have a plan. When you don’t have a plan then things come up and you’re left asking, “What do we do now?”

Obviously, we don’t know the exact changes that will be made in a future administration. But there has been a hint toward one if you want to talk about reproductive rights: the ability for women to have pregnancy terminations. That may be a challenge depending on what state you live in. There are states where prohibiting terminations is one of their top priorities. Texas is one of those states and Kansas is another.

Pregnant couple relaxing on bed at home

That can pose problems for women because of the time frame in which terminations need to be done. For women to find out that they’re pregnant—to be able to make the decision that termination is what they’d like to do, and having to travel to get that service done—it’s going to possibly be an issue.

One of the things that Black folks need to do is educate our­selves about what Planned Parenthood actually is. They’re not out there to kill Black babies. The biggest misconception is that all they do are terminations, when that is only 3 percent of the services that they offer.

The plethora of services they provide women goes from an annual exam to contraception care and contraception coun­seling in addition to family planning for women who want to plan their pregnancies. They also provide mammograms for women who are unable to get those elsewhere and they pro­vide care for men. Men can get annual checkups there, and they can get STD checks, too. There are so many other things that Planned Parenthood does for people who have a lack of access and resources that we really do need them in our com­munities.

If those types of services are taken out, we’re going to have an increase, possibly, of teenage pregnancy. Teen pregnancy has been on the decrease for us as a society because we’re reaching our teens and having them be responsible for their sexual health. In November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that births to teen mothers in U.S. counties, especially in urban areas, dropped 50 percent be­tween 2007 and 2015. A lot of that goes to the resources and availability of contraceptive care and health care for our teens. Now that may be something that may be about to be reversed, and we need to be vigilant about countering that.


Furthermore, One of the biggest things we need to do is decrease our risk and rates of obesity. Overall, as a Black community, we are at risk for are obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, that shorten our life spans and quality of life.

One of the organizations that is on my radar to support is the American Heart Association. They’re very big on decreas­ing heart disease, which is the No. 1 killer overall in the United States. The American Heart Association is involved with obesity prevention efforts, such as imposing local taxes on drinks like soda, which is a big contributor to being overweight.

During the next four years it’s necessary for the Black com­munity to take action, whether that’s through grassroots or­ganizing or ensuring resources are provided in our own com­munities. Because when we look at access to care or access to resources, we might see some of that drop off’.

A lot of nonprofit organizations are going to have to ramp up their community outreach activities because there may not be an Affordable Care Act that will allow people to get the regular and continuity of care they need at medical institutions.

We can’t afford to let our health decline—or allow our teen pregnancy rates to increase—because there’s no access to care. Rather, it needs to be us providing services to our com­munity and within our community.

Update: Our reader Paige Johnson has written to us and we couldn’t help but share her message with you:

“I know how important kids’ health and safety is to parents (being one myself), and I’ve found lots of great, informative resources on the subject. I’m passing them on to you because I thought you’d like to share them with your readers:

Nutrition for Kids: Helping Children Get Off to a Good Start

A Family Affair: The Science Behind Creating Culinary Masterpieces with Your Young Chef

Motivating Kids to be Active

How to Create an Autism-Friendly Environment for Kids

Minding the Kids in Divorce: Minimizing the Mental Health Impact

Mental Illness in Children: Signs, Types, & Causes

The Parents’ Guide to Decluttering as Children Grow

5 Serious Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore in Kids

Coping with a Child’s Illness While You’re in Recovery: Learn Coping Methods While Going Through This Difficult Time “

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