COVID-19 and the Exacerbation of Health Inequity and Inequality
A body of research has identified significant health inequities and inequalities found in low- and mid-income groups compared to high-income groups.* Inequities and inequalities experienced in low- and mid-income households include the inability to access a wide-range of healthcare services by community-based healthcare service providers. Health inequities occur when there are unfair avoidable differences, whereas health inequality refers to the uneven distribution of healthcare resources and services. Other inequities and inequalities experienced by low- and mid-income groups include the cost and efficacy of care. These disparities may become exacerbated during a public health crisis, such as the novel coronavirus pandemic of 2019.**
The purpose of this systematic review is to determine if COVID-19 has contributed to the exacerbation of the health inequities and inequalities experienced by low- and mid-income groups. From the outset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, it was identified as an unbiased respiratory virus that rapidly traversed the globe causing high infection and mortality rates. Although COVID-19 was identified as an unbiased airborne virus with a relatively lengthy incubation period that can infect all humans resulting in devasting outcomes, there is evidence that suggests a bias induced by humans.
Our research team used the PICO framework to develop a research question that aims to determine if COVID-19 has exacerbated the disparities in health inequity and inequality in low- and mid-income groups compared to high-income groups.*** Our systematic review of peer-reviewed literature will assess research studies that focused on the prevention of COVID-19. Governments and public health officials recommended COVID-19 prevention strategy included proper hand hygiene, face coverings, social distancing, antibody testing, and contract tracing. The goal of our study is to help influence global public health policy that strives to work towards the elimination of health disparities experienced in low- and mid-income groups.
*Income groups as defined by the World Bank and the World Health Organization.
**Also referred to as SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic of 2019.
***PICO is an acronym for population, intervention, comparison, and outcome.