The Complex Challenge of Social Determinants of Health

The pandemic has made ‘social determinants of health’ a buzzy phrase and brought fresh grant money to study the century-old concept.
But thus far, research on the topic hasn’t translated to tangible solutions, which are politically fraught and incredibly complex.
Could COVID-19 eventually change that? In this must-read piece, Nature’s Amy Maxmen explores the pandemic response in California’s San Joaquin Valley, home to countless agricultural workers—many of whom are immigrants with limited access to health care and social benefits.
“We call them essential, but they’re considered expendable,” says Hardeep Singh, a medical and public health student whose mother tested positive for COVID-19 while working in one of the region’s chicken plants.

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