Advancing Health Equity in New Orleans: MAC Partners with IWES for the New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Collection

MAC’s Dr. Katherine Theall and Dr. Maeve Wallace partnered with Dr. Danielle Broussard and Dr. Lisa Richardson from the Institute of Women and Ethnic Studies (IWES) to write a newly published brief on Advancing Health Equity in New Orleans: Building a Positive Change in Health for Data Center’s The New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Collection. IWES is a national non-profit that resides in New Orleans and focuses on improving health outcomes for women of color and their families and communities by addressing the lack of health options and access using advocacy, health education, research, and direct services. Dr. Broussard is the Research and Evaluation Manager at IWES, and her research interests focus on women’s health across the lifespan and maternal and child public health. Dr. Richardson is the Chief Impact Officer at IWES, and her interests include community development, analyzing social determinants of health, sexual health education and advocacy for colored women and youth, and participatory action research.

The New Orleans Prosperity Index: Tricentennial Collection highlights New Orleans’ progress towards prosperity since its founding to its three-hundred-year anniversary this year, 2018. Overall, the collection of essays celebrates the city’s history and achievements, while reflecting on challenges that have impeded the city’s growth and progress. Authored by local scholars, the essays cover various issues including the Health Equity brief by MAC and IWES, in addition to others relating to employment and income, housing, democracy, health, education, and criminal justice. Each brief explores historical context and trends over time and looks toward the future of New Orleans, highlighting needs and opportunities for advancement. Together, the collection shows that the Tricentennial is a unique point in time for the city of New Orleans to reflect on our past, celebrate accomplishments, and embark on a new course for the future to grow in prosperity, expand resilience, and inspire a diverse and equitable nation.

Dr. Wallace and Dr. Broussard presented the report to attendees at the Data Center’s NOLA 300 Forum in June 2018. The Health Equity report focuses on the root causes of health inequities in New Orleans throughout its three-hundred-year history, beginning at its founding under the institution of slavery. The essay draws connections from the historical and perpetuated oppression of black residents to inextricable ties between race, socioeconomic conditions, and vast racial inequities in population health outcomes. Authors explore contributing factors such as lack of access to high-quality health care free from discrimination, neighborhood conditions, toxin exposures, and poor job opportunities. The essay documents the current state of health inequities that divide New Orleanians along racial lines, emphasizing the need for multi-sector collaboration and coordination beyond public health and medicine in order to promote equal opportunities for health and wellness among all people who call the city home. It calls to action those in advocacy, policy, and leadership roles in New Orleans to begin closing the gaps of inequity throughout New Orleans and to provide new opportunities for better health for all New Orleanians, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, or any other characteristic.