LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A new study breaks down health disparities in Jefferson County; it examines historical factors and focuses on solutions.
The AARP study focused on Louisvillians 50-year-old and older. The African American Initiative, or AAI, and WLOU radio discussed it live on Monday with AARP, along with community leaders including a pastor and doctors.
"We're keenly aware of that fact that there are long-standing inequities,” Ron Bridges with AARP said.
"It is a heavy lift and it's going have to be from the bottom up to the top down and all of us have to play a part," Dr. Karen Krigger said, director of health equity at U of L's Health Equity Center.
“Our roots are planted in soil that we call systems of powers,” Louisville Pastor Alma Wooley, also a volunteer with AARP, said.
Those systems include employment and income, housing, transportation and more.
Panelists said that redlining can be attributed as a catalyst to the disparities because access was shut off - access to fresh food, clean air, and proper infrastructure upkeep.
While panelists agreed that the past has affected the present, they also said the Black community has to change its eating habits and other cycles that perpetuate unhealthy lifestyles.
"This report is extremely important, but what we've got to do is make sure we get it out, especially to our listening audience, and let them know hey this is where we are, this is what we've got to do and this is what's going to be done,” WLOU Community Relations Director Ron Jones said.
Senator Gerald Neal, the founder of AAI, said he hosts these kinds of discussions because it's his responsibility, and they can help shape policy.
"My thing is to bring value back to my constituency base, to bring value to my community,” he said.
Neal said one discussion point he's excited about is the idea of a 'report card,’ giving a grade to various organizations to assess how they are closing the health gap.
He said this will increase transparency and engage the community.