Coalition Will Address Racial Disparities in Rare Disease Communities

Coalition Will Address Racial Disparities in Rare Disease Communities
The Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI) recently created a Rare Disease Diversity Coalition focused on reducing racial disparities in the rare disease community. Getting a timely and accurate diagnosis for a disease that few people — sometimes even physicians — have heard of is challenging on its own merit. But people of racial and ethnic minorities must frequently overcome even greater challenges. The National Institutes for Health estimates that between 25 million and 30 million Americans have a rare disease. Because of their relative obscurity, accurate diagnosis of these diseases often takes longer than in more common disorders. Estimates indicate that patients may wait nearly five years and see an average of seven different doctors before their condition is accurately diagnosed. If the barrier to care is higher for rare diseases in general, minorities often find it slightly higher. Scientifically, minorities are chronically underrepresented in many population genetic studies. As genetic abnormalities underlie many rare diseases and as certain genetic conditions disproportionately affect communities of color, having a vast majority of participants of European descent creates significant knowledge gaps that can directly affect patient care and the ability to tailor treatments. Social determinants of health, such as poverty, add to the obstacles faced by many minorities. Poor economic standing limits access to healthy food, safe neighborhoods, affordable healthcare, and proximity to hospitals. As a further barrier to treatment, less than 10% of rare diseases have a treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For those who already struggle to gain access to needed healthcare, the need for better access becomes clear. The
Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.