In a commencement address at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, the White House Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that COVID-19 “has uncovered a stark reality and failing of our own society,” bringing attention to the health inequities in the USA and how the pandemic has disproportionately affected minorities (Fauci, 2021). This is a much-needed acknowledgment of the social determinants of health (SDH), not just in the USA, but globally. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines the SDH as the combination of socioeconomic, social, and environmental factors that affect individual and community health (2017). These factors have a tremendous impact on the equitable accessibility and quality of healthcare. This is not a new phenomenon, but the COVID-19 pandemic has brought these social inequities within the healthcare system to the surface for all of us to see.
The social determinants of health (SDH) are “factors apart from medical care that can be influenced by social policies and shape health in powerful ways” (Bravemann, 2014). The SDH disproportionally affect minority communities within the USA and globally.