Alumni Spotlight: Anjana Sreedhar (MPA-HPAM 2020)

Anjana Sreedhar

Anjana Sreedhar (MPA-HPAM 2020) is deeply committed to the work of social justice and equity in the healthcare space. Anjana recently published Health Care of a Thousand Slights, Connecting Legacy to Access to Healthcare, which details the history of health care disparities among marginalized communities in the United States. To write the book, Anjana conducted extensive research, gathered details from interviews, and synthesized it into a book that uncovers historical information and provides solutions to mitigating health care disparities.

To get a deeper insight into the book and Sreedhar’s writing process, we reached out to her for a brief interview.

Why did you decide to write this book, and what was the process like actually writing it?

"I started writing the book in January 2020, in “normal” times. When I started writing, I didn’t feel much of an impetus to write the book, but then the pandemic hit. It became clear that these issues surrounding healthcare were real, and research showed that the pandemic was disproportionately impacting communities of color. That gave me a push to start writing. Then the death of George Floyd gave me a frame through which to think about the connection between health and the way that we live our lives. There are so many disparate but interconnected areas that impact our health. Understanding the way that transportation, food, and so many other sectors intersect to impact health was key to my framing process."

How did your time as a Wagner student impact your decision to write the book?

"I always appreciated my time outside the classroom at Wagner. My friends and I were constantly talking about why people’s individual experiences are different even when it seems that their resources are the same. Of course, the answer is systemic racism, but outside of places like Wagner, we don’t generally have conversations about why things are the way they are. We don’t call out these systems that are rooted in discriminatory practices against minority groups. That realization helped inspire me to write this book for people who don’t get access to places like Wagner, who don’t have these conversations. This book is for them. I wanted to create a book that made this information accessible for people who don’t work in healthcare and don’t have access to the resources we do at Wagner. The book also prioritizes talking to students--those are the people who will be leading us in the future, so they need to know how to think through these issues and consider the way that inequities come into play within our systems."

What is the central message you want readers to take away from your book?

"The main thing I want people to take from the book is that everything is connected in terms of the way we live our lives and how we access public goods. These are things that all of us at Wagner care about--education, transportation, food systems. All of these things are interconnected and the events of history continue to shape the way that our lives are lived and communities thrive.

I also want people to think about solutions. I do present some possible solutions in the second half of the book, exploring how policy and technology can be used to repair inequities. But I approach this with caution--if we aren’t careful in applying solutions, more problems will arise. There are people who are working on solutions in the face of increasing adversity in respect to economic downturn, climate change, COVID-19, and more. I want to emphasize that there are people working on finding solutions to these systemic issues so people can experience the kind of healthcare that they deserve."