Rajan Anthony Sonik
Name of Host Organization: Massachusetts Law Reform Institute/ LSC of Harvard
City, State: Boston, Massachusetts
Issue area: Health Care/Medical-Legal Partnership, Disability Rights, Children/Youth
Sponsors: Mintz Levin P.C., Biogen Idec
Rajan worked to improve health and education outcomes of low-income children with sickle cell disease (SCD) by leading an innovative effort to understand and meet their interrelated medical, social, and legal needs.
Need Addressed By Project
More than a quarter of low-income children have a chronic illness. For children with sickle cell disease (SCD), which primarily affects African-Americans, historical and structural racism negatively affects health. SCD receives nine times less funding per person for research and social support than comparable diseases affecting white Americans. Best medical practices for SCD have been disseminated and followed at much lower rates than best practices for other diseases. Children with SCD face challenges to their health in multiple contexts. Detrimental social factors such as education, housing, and income security can adversely affect health even more than access to health care. Studies have shown, for example, that students with SCD are routinely denied basic accommodations to stay healthy and that the severity of their condition is not believed by schools. Integrated medical, social, and legal services foster better health outcomes for children with SCD.