National Minority Health Month - Connecticut Multicultural Health Partnership

National Minority Health Month

As you may already know, April is National Minority Health Month. All year, but particularly during this month, the Office of Minority Health urges us to think about, raise awareness around, and search for solutions for racial and ethnic health disparities. This year, the theme for National Minority Health Month is the role of prevention in combating chronic illnesses and moving forward the battle against health disparities. As a step in that direction, Brad Plebani, Esq, past Chair of CMHP, has prepared the following information for us to review. I hope his words encourage you to action.

Stacey L. Brown

National Minority Health Month

Racial and ethnic “minority “ groups in the U.S. experience higher levels of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. For example, age-adjusted stroke death rates for 2005 were 31% higher for African Americans than for whites, and heart disease death rates were 23% higher. In addition, American Indian and Alaska Native adults are twice as likely as white adults to have diabetes. Among 12- to 19-year-old boys, the prevalence of obesity is higher among adolescent non-Hispanic African Americans (19%) and Mexican Americans (22%) than among non-Hispanic whites (17%). Among girls in this age group, non-Hispanic African Americans have the highest prevalence of obesity (28%); the prevalence is 20% among Mexican Americans and 15% among non-Hispanic whites.

If development of these chronic conditions were prevented, the disparities gap would close. And more importantly, members of racial and ethnic “minority” groups would enjoy better health and better lives.

In 2009, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published “The Power of Prevention: Chronic Disease….the Public Health Challenge of the 21st Century. See, . In that publication the CDC notes that:

Health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to attain his or her full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances. Health inequities are reflected in differences in length of life; quality of life; rates of disease, disability, and death; severity of disease; and access to treatment.

Four main modifiable health risk behaviors have been identified: (1) lack of physical activity; (2) poor nutrition; (3) tobacco use; and (4) excessive alcohol consumption. These four behaviors are responsible for much of the illness and early deaths related to chronic diseases. To prevent chronic conditions, policies and action to eliminate health disparities must include: (1) health promotion activities that will enhance individuals’ and communities’ ability to access good and affordable food, and engage in physical activity in safe neighborhoods; (2) early detection efforts so that developing chronic conditions can

be nipped in the bud before their full, harmful effects occur; and appropriate management of existing diseases so that chronic conditions are at least controlled and at best diminished. Happily, insurance through the Affordable Care Act that is now available for many people who experience health disparities can contribute to achieving both early detection and appropriate management of chronic diseases. But more must be done to change the social determinants of health to assure that chronic conditions do not occur or at least are less frequent.

During this National Minority Health Month, the Connecticut Multicultural Health Partnership invites its members and the public to inform just one person you know who is not familiar with health disparities and chronic conditions. And to contact one government official on the federal, state or local level to demand that s/he change the conditions that underlie the social determinants of health. Together, step by step, with small actions by each of us, we will create great and powerful change and end health disparities once and for all.

Posted: Wednesday, April 9, 2014

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