Poverty and income inequality cause pervasive diseases that affect everyone, regardless of race, gender, sex, or age. It does not matter where you live or where you come from, you have seen it.

You have witnessed how lack of access to resources has left communities in poor health, families in dilapidated housing, or children in underfunded schools.

Non-profit organizations and community health centers have worked to alleviate the pain that poverty and income inequality can inflict. But these efforts often require legislative backing and steady funding to be sustainable.

I learned how critical it is to have health care advocates in the legislature and the Governor’s office during my grant writing days with an Atlanta-based non-profit that helped battered and abused women achieve economic independence.

As an epidemiologist, I have spent over a decade supporting non-profit organizations and researching health disparities among racial and ethnic groups.

In 2017, I presented at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting. My presentation examined whether states with high levels of income inequality have worse health outcomes than states with lower levels of income inequality.

My findings showed that the states and U.S. territories with the highest levels of income inequality had the poorest health outcomes for minority populations. People living in areas where income inequality is higher are at greater risk for major depression, coronary heart disease, stroke, and death.

These health disparities are the result of policies that favor one social class over another.

Policies that cut support for safety-net programs that lower- and middle-class families depend on and end up costing Georgia millions of dollars in terms of avoidable sickness and disease. Public health transcends political partisanship.

Health research forms the foundation for public policy and has been responsible for many of the advancements that we have seen in our health and quality of life. Georgians deserve a governor who will implement policies based on objective facts instead of political bias. That is why I’m supporting Stacey Abrams for Governor of Georgia.

Stacey Abrams will uplift all Georgians—no matter their zip code or salary. She not only has plans to lift Georgians out of poverty and reduce income inequality, but she also has plans that will improve the health outcomes of all Georgians.

From women to the mentally ill, to the elderly, and the disabled, Stacey Abrams has plans on how to ensure that these communities have access to quality, affordable health care.

In addition, she is an expert on health care finance and has consistently engaged with Georgia’s rural, suburban, and urban communities across the state to understand what Georgians are facing so she can improve access to health care as governor.

Her experience and deep understanding of the role that private, non-profit, and government sectors play in improving healthcare access make her the most qualified candidate in this race.

Abrams’ first priority as governor will be expanding Medicaid in the state of Georgia. This will have a tremendous impact on our state.

It will provide access to health care for 500,000 Georgians, create more than 50,000 jobs across the state, expand mental health supports, and protect rural hospitals from closure. It also has the potential to save Georgians millions of dollars in taxes in the long term because healthy Georgians cost a lot less to take care of.

Our state deserves a governor who will not allow politics to get in the way of doing what’s right for all Georgians. Abrams’ opponent, Brian Kemp, is not interested in looking out for all of us. He doesn’t have the plans or the expertise to deal with the real struggles of poverty and health care access that ravage our state every day.

Georgians in low-income communities are struggling with access to proper maternal care, mental health support, and substance abuse treatment. Abrams is the only candidate in this race with plans to address these critical issues that impact the livelihoods of Georgians.

That is why we must elect Stacey Abrams as Georgia’s next governor. Together we can overcome the challenges that are plaguing our state and give all Georgians the opportunity to thrive.

Emeka Oraka, MPH, serves as a senior health research analyst at ICF International in Atlanta, Georgia. Drawing on his extensive experience in conducting epidemiologic research and statistical analysis, Oraka has carried out investigative and analytical activities related to the surveillance of risk factors, prevention, and control of chronic diseases.

Emeka Oraka

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