Reflections on Health and Equality
By Ralph Fuccillo, Chief Mission Officer
Today, many of us at DentaQuest are taking a few minutes to remember and celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We honor Dr. King for challenging us on how we can be a more equal society. He reminded us that, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhumane."
This January, we also remember the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of a War on Poverty. This week, politicians and national media have been commenting on whether this national campaign accomplished anything. Current data shows the poverty rate has only dropped to 15 percent from 19 percent over two generations. 46 million Americans live in households where their income is scarcely adequate to cover basic needs. And despite gains in worker productivity, wages are stagnant for middle and low income families. While the dialogue continues, we know there is more that must be done to reduce disparities in health, especially when it comes to oral health.
In this spirit, I call up these words from Dr. King as an inspiration to work for improving our systems of care, community, policy and financing so health inequity becomes a thing of the past:
“A true revolution of values will cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act… True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
Our overall enterprise strategies are redefining oral health in ways that will meet the oral health needs of many more Americans. DentaQuest is committed to improving the oral health of all.