When I was 15, I dislocated my knee playing frisbee, and luckily I was able to get an ambulance to take me to a hospital and treat my injuries. As I grew older, my eyes were opened to some major issues in the healthcare system. I saw people struggle with trying to pay for treatment and dealing with chronic issues. That is one of the biggest reasons why I am on the Pre-Med track; medicine has always fascinated me with how you treat conditions, but I also love to perform acts of service to help our community.
Now, in one of the biggest health crises in the modern age, COVID-19 has tested the world in many ways. People have been forced to accommodate by wearing masks and social distancing Also, the lockdown has led to a shutdown in the economy, leading to loss of jobs and slow growth. However, there has been some good to come out of the pandemic. People are now becoming more aware of issues such as health disparities, especially among Asian Americans.
According to research done by the National Institute of Health, Asian Americans face many health disparities compared to other races in cancer and chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes. Asian Americans have some of the highest rates of mortality when it comes to liver and stomach cancer, both of which are highly preventable; a huge reason for such a high mortality rate is due to the prevalence of infection, such as Hepatitis B. Another alarming statistic is that the leading cause of death among Asian Americans is suicide; between the ages 20-24, suicide is the leading cause of death, and for women between the ages 65-84, Asian Americans top the list. A suggested reason for such a frightening statistic by some experts has to do with culture. Some Asian Americans view depression as a personal weakness and downplay its risk. This leads to Asian Americans expressing emotional distress through physical means, such as restlessness and tension.
To make matters worse, Asian Americans often do not have the means to treat the ailments they might have. The article, “Barriers to Healthcare Among Asian Americans,” states that only 6 percent of Asian Americans are covered by employer health insurance; even though the unemployment rate is low for Asian Americans, many Asian Americans have multiple low-paying jobs or work for small businesses. Yet, even with all these health disparities, there are ways to combat them.
One definite way to address health disparities is to have a translator explain conditions. Language barriers sometimes inhibit the communication of important information, and having a translator helps bridge that gap. Another way to reduce health disparities is to invest heavily in prevention and early detection for chronic disease and cancer; as of right now, cancer screenings among Asian Americans are the lowest compared to other ethnic groups. Additionally, more research on Asian Americans for certain health conditions is needed; there is not that much research in terms of cardiac health, which makes addressing the problem extremely difficult. Finally, one of the best ways to reduce these disparities is bringing these issues to light and talking about them; raising awareness provides exposure to these issues and causes more people to get involved to reduce their impact. Even though there is a long way to go when it comes to completely solving these issues, by acknowledging that these problems exist and coming up with cohesive solutions, we can hopefully eliminate these problems and render them part of history.
Marzuq Islam (he/him) is a second-generation Bengali American living in Cary, North Carolina; a distinct quality of his is that he is a huge advocate for providing resources and knowledge to help people better succeed in life. Before college, Marzuq was part of a variety of activities including FRC Robotics and Cary Teen Council. Moreover, he also had the distinction of being a Governor School Alumni, an NC House Page, and an NC Governor Page. Currently, Marzuq is a freshman attending East Carolina University as a Bioprocess Engineer while on the Pre-Medical track. In addition, Marzuq has the distinction of being an EC Scholar, which is ECU’s highest merit scholarship. At East Carolina University, he is part of the Presurgical Society and Alpha Epsilon Delta, a Pre-Medical Honor Society; also, he is a part of New Beginnings Healthcare, which is a team in ECU’s Honor College trying to provide quality healthcare to the people of Eastern North Carolina.
In his free time, Marzuq loves to read books, watch action dramas, and listen to rock music.