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Ed. note: This blog was originally published on Health.gov
“Without health and long life, all else fails.” Dr. Booker T. Washington wrote these words in a letter to leading African American newspapers in April 1915, proposing the observance of “National Negro Health Week.” This proposition became the foundation for National Minority Health Month, observed every April in the United States.
This year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health is joining partners throughout the nation to “Bridge Health Equity Across Communities,” raising awareness about health disparities and encouraging communities to bolster collaborations, reach across sectors, and address the social, economic, and environmental factors that influence the health of our communities – the social determinants of health.
All people, regardless of where they live or where they come from, should have the opportunity to reach their full potential for health. Creating environments that promote physical activity helps prevent and control chronic diseases, reduce disparities, and improve healthy lifestyle options. Aspects of neighborhood environments, such as the presence of walkable sidewalks and playgrounds, proper lighting of streets, after-school physical activity programs for youth, and availability of affordable nutritious foods can promote and encourage healthy behaviors like physical activity.
Many organizations and government agencies have developed resources targeting the social determinants of health to reduce health disparities within neighborhoods and communities. Here are a few examples of physical activity-focused resources to check out as you observe National Minority Health Month:
One hundred years ago, Dr. Washington argued that health was the key to progress and equity in all other things. Although progress has been made, we must keep encouraging physical activity and making sure our communities are safe, accessible, and walkable.
Visit https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/NMHM17/ for more information about National Minority Health Month.
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Share this post with your network using these sample tweets: New BAYW blog from @MinorityHealth about #SDOH and the role of communities in increasing physical activity. #NMHM17 http://bit.ly/2pjua6A
Ed. note: This blog was originally published on Aids.gov.
Many people in the HIV community work year-round to respond to health disparities beyond HIV.
National Minority Health Month (NMHM) is observed annually in April. The HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) is the Federal planning lead and collaborates with partners across the country. The theme for 2017, Bridging Health Equity Across Communities, emphasizes the collaborative, community-level work being done across the nation to help achieve health equity.
For the 2017 observance of NMHM, these digital communication resources are available on the NMHM web page:
You can also join these NMHM events on social media:
“Working together we can end #healthdisparities in every community! #NMHM17http://thndr.me/gVy0Ns
By taking these actions and using these digital tools, you can help raise awareness of how HIV continues to disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority populations and be a voice for eliminating health disparities.
Ed. note: This blog was originally published on the HHS OMH Blog for Health Equity in September 2016.
Achieving a nation free of disparities in health and health care extends beyond the walls of federal offices. As we deepen our reach into this current era of public health, we step into an age of a greater understanding of the factors upon which better health is built—the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age. This knowledge underscores our goal in building stronger relationships and alliances that achieve better health outcomes for all communities by bolstering the efforts of our partners.
Take for instance Oakland, CA, where minority male youth are benefiting from one of the funding opportunities that the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) awards to develop and implement health programs and activities across the nation. Our grantee, Youth Alive, is implementing innovative community policing approaches through a public health framework that help improve the health and well-being of communities of color through the Minority Youth Violence Prevention initiative. This program, and others like it, reflects the heart of our work in strengthening the capacity of community-serving organizations in their efforts to reduce health disparities in ways that address the social determinants of health.
OMH and our partners continue to stand at the forefront of responding to the needs of the community and driving monumental advancements in programs, policies, data and research. Together, over the past 30 years we have led health equity efforts at the grassroots level and seen these efforts through from recommendation to implementation. Since 1986, our office has provided tangible support to state and territorial offices of minority health, multicultural health and health equity; community and faith-based organizations; national associations and organizations; institutions of higher education; tribes and tribal organizations; and research institutions dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minorities.
HHS OMH grantees are committed to developing strategies that provide minority and underrepresented students with a foundation to pursue successful careers in health professions; connect minorities and underserved populations to health insurance coverage and quality, affordable care; implement tailored state-level community interventions designed to address the most pressing disparities, including HIV/AIDS; fight against lupus, a chronic, autoimmune disease that disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minority populations; and many others.
The need to accelerate our efforts in innovative approaches to improve minority health remains evident by the persistent gaps in health and health care across communities of color, consequently leading to poorer health outcomes.
Most recently, OMH funded three new grant programs in 2016 totaling more than $7 million to support public health initiatives that impact lives across the nation. Through these efforts, we aim to improve health outcomes for minority and/or disadvantaged young people in transition from jail to their communities; promote healthy behaviors among minority and/or disadvantaged youth at-risk for poor health and life outcomes due to childhood trauma; and continue our work in reducing lupus-related health disparities.
We recognize the importance of partnerships with communities and organizations in closing the gap on health disparities and achieving better health. And as we support the work of these health equity champions, we also create a future where the intersection of health and social condition serves as the crucial nexus for ending health disparities in America.
Ed. note: This blog was originally published on PRWeek.com.
Many people are familiar with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s 1968 assessment that "of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman."
Equally important and less cited is the solution King offered in the sentence that followed: "I see no alternative to direct action and creative nonviolence to raise the conscience of the nation."
There have been important gains since then but, 51 years after King made the comments during a Chicago press conference, racial and ethnic disparities in health and healthcare persist. King’s prescription of direct action contains the foundation for the most promising approach to erasing these disparities.
Community-based action that focuses not only on health status, but also a particular type of health difference closely linked to social, economic, and environmental disadvantages, is central to the work of health advocates as we observe National Minority Health Month 2017 in April.
This year’s theme, Bridging Health Equity Across Communities, encourages awareness that barriers go well beyond the health system and include places where we live and work and where our children learn and play.
Reducing disparities in health means working to address the same conditions King and other leaders noted in the pursuit of civil rights - poverty, low educational attainment, and dangerous and unhealthy housing.
Community organizations and public-private partnerships play an important role in helping improve opportunities for all Americans to reach their full potential for good health and success.
In Atlanta, the Southeastern Health Equity Council, which includes local private and public organizations, joined forces with national nonprofit Uplift Solutions to provide access to capital for small community grocery stories to bring fresh food to underserved communities in the Southeast. The partnership is helping end food deserts and addresses a vital need to which residents of many communities never give a second thought: where to find nutritious food.
From fresh food to safe playgrounds to walkable neighborhoods, the keys to good health are all around us. Because racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy and more likely to face poorer health outcomes, direct action resulting in improvements in our communities can affect the health of generations.
During National Minority Health Month, we will highlight the work of individuals and organizations and healthcare professionals and advocates in communities across the nation to address racial and ethnic health disparities.
Office of Minority Health – www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities - www.nimhd.nih.gov
Fifteen. That is the number of major family holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Easter – that have passed since my father died from colon cancer in June 2013.
Although he was an intelligent, engaging physician, a common enemy, fear, made him wait until it was too late to get a screening exam. He lost his fight against this disease, despite a significant support system and compassionate, expert care from many of the finest health care institutions in the country. The ripple effect caused by the loss of his energy, enthusiasm, and productivity continues to be felt in my family and in his community.
Unfortunately, minorities are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from colorectal cancer. African Americans are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to get colorectal cancer and die from it. It is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among Latinos, and fewer than 40 percent of American Indian and Native Hawaiian adults have ever been screened for colorectal cancer. 1 About 50,000 Americans die annually from colorectal cancer. More than three-quarters of those who die from the disease are racial and ethnic minorities.2
Since 2000, March has been officially dedicated as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, yet even with increased awareness and steady increases in the number of people who are being screened, there are more than 130,000 new cases each year. Screening among those ages 50 and older reached 63 percent in 2015 and continues to rise. If screening remains at this level, an estimated 39,700 additional colorectal cancer cases and 37,200 deaths will be prevented through 2030. 3
This month and throughout the year, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS) engages in activities that help minorities in the United States reduce their risk of developing or dying from colorectal cancer. On March 12, OMH was proud to join several private and public organizations participating in an event entitled, Dispelling Fear: A Colorectal Cancer Awareness Forum, at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, MD.
OMH also funds the tribal Colon Cancer Screening Project run by the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan for three federally recognized tribes located in geographic hotspots for colon cancer. More than 1,500 members of the Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, the Bay Mills Indian Community, and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe have attended culturally appropriate education and outreach events hosted by the project. All three communities reported significant increases in screening last year.
Here are a few resources that can help all of us prevent, treat and manage colorectal cancer:
With colorectal cancer, early detection increases treatment options and the chance for a cure. Let’s use National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month as an opportunity to step up the fight to avoid losing more loved ones and friends to a disease that can be prevented and beaten.
2 U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2013 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2016. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.
3 Colorectal Cancer Statistics, 2017. CA Cancer J Clin 2017. American Cancer Society.