April is National Minority Health Month, which is an important time to recognize the wide range of health disparities that exist among minority populations in our community and to learn ways that we can help reduce those disparities.
Research shows that diabetes, heart disease and cancer are among the chronic diseases more common among racial and ethnic minority groups nationwide:
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mexican Americans have an 87 percent higher risk of having diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites, and in general, Latinos are two times more likely to die from the disease than non-Hispanic whites.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health identifies heart disease as the leading cause of death for racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S.
- African Americans have a 30 percent higher death rate for cancer than whites, according to the CDC.
In our region, statistics coincide with national data showing that African Americans suffer a greater burden of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Additional health disparities that affect minority groups include insufficient prenatal care and high infant mortality.
According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in our state:
- Death rates for African Americans are 2.1 times higher for diabetes, 1.3 times higher for heart disease and 1.2 times higher for cancer than that of whites.
- Between 2004 and 2008, the percentage of pregnant Hispanic or Latino women who received late or no prenatal care was 3.5 times higher than that of white women.
- Between 2004 and 2008, American Indians or Alaska Natives had a 1.8 times higher infant mortality rate than whites.
To help eliminate local health disparities in health care, established the Center on Health Disparities in 2007, which works to raise community awareness, improve capacity, and develop solutions for health care providers and patients.
Throughout the month of April, the Center on Health Disparities will be featuring a series of videos focusing on the diseases more common among minorities and helpful tips for reducing one’s risk, as well as information on the center’s most recent projects aimed at creating health equity for all. Become a “fan” of our Facebook page and watch the videos here: http://www.facebook.com/HealthDisparities
One of the Center’s most recent projects is called “Beat IT!” (Becoming Empowered Africans through Improved Treatment of Diabetes, Hepatitis B, and HIV/AIDS). Last fall, the federal Office of Minority Health awarded the center a $200,000 grant to design curricula to improve health outcomes of African immigrants through the development of culturally competent training tools.
Watch the video above to learn more.