Did you know where you live in San Francisco can determine when and sometimes how, you will die? In a discussion about income disparity in San Francisco and how to narrow the gap between the rich and poor, Anda Kuo, MD, professor of Pediatrics and Co-Leader of the UCSF Child Health Equity Institute, spoke of how one’s zip code can determine outcomes such as education level, income level and general health.
On October 26, 2017 Wu Yee Children's Services hosted a speaker luncheon titled Income Disparities in SF: Closing the Gap through Early Childhood Education at The City Club of San Francisco. The luncheon featured Bertram Lubin, MD, Associate Dean of Children's Health, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals, Anda Kuo, MD, as moderator, and California State Assemblymember, David Chiu.
In their talks, Dr. Lubin and Dr. Kuo spoke of the health crisis that affects low income families in San Francisco. They both emphasized that poverty and disadvantage are the most powerful epidemiologic predictors of health outcomes. Dr. Lubin spoke of the many health consequences to poverty including increased infant mortality, increased incidence of chronic diseases such as asthma and obesity, and poor nutrition and delayed developmental growth.
Dr. Kuo noted in the United States, 50% of children live near the poverty line. She made a comparison between two San Francisco neighborhoods: Russian Hill, a wealthy neighborhood, and Bayview-Hunters Point, a low-income neighborhood. Compared to a child living in Russian Hill, a child living in Bayview-Hunters Point, is two times as likely to be born premature, seven times as likely to be born into poverty, and is expected to die 14 years earlier, than his or her Russian Hill counterpart.
Assemblymember David Chiu focused on the politics and policy side of income disparity in San Francisco and solutions to close gaps in education, health, and opportunity. Chiu added that he had a personal connection to Dr. Kuo’s San Francisco neighborhood comparision, living in Russian Hill before his son was born, and moving to Bayview-Hunters Point after not being able to afford a home in Russian Hill.
Chiu mentioned some policy solutions that are being made in the California State Legislature. For example, improvements in health care access and dental care for undocumented immigrant children and regulations regarding skyrocketing prescription drug prices. Chiu mentioned the need for increased funding for trained and capable early childhood education professionals and child care providers. Housing, economic self-sufficiency, education, and prison reform were used as examples for what needs to be changed at the State level in order to support the narrowing of the income gap.
The event closed with a question and answer discussion between Dr. Kuo, Dr. Lubin, Assemblymember Chiu and attendees. Advocacy for early childhood education, mental health, and parental leave was discussed and participants left the event with hope for children of the future.
For more information on the USCF's Child Health Equity Institute click here