April has held quite a few national health observances for us, but we would like to round out the month paying some special attention to a topic that we see as a very important one, minority health. Amongst other health observances in April, we celebrate minority health month—getting out information about the disparity in health from the minority to the majority population.
Did you know that roughly 19 percent of African-Americans under the age of 65 do not have health insurance? Also, minorities who work in low socioeconomic circumstances are at an increased risk for mortality, and African-Americans have a higher death rate for treatable diseases like diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, according to federal studies.
Mortality rates among adult minorities is only the start of the problem, African-American mothers are more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to receive no prenatal care in the first two trimesters of their pregnancy, many receive no care at all. American Indian and Alaska Native communities experience a 60% higher infant mortality rate compared to the white population, and their rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is twice the rate of the white community’s. Puerto Rican infants are twice as likely to die from causes related to low birth weight, compared to white infants, and African-American babies have the highest preterm birth rate of any racial or ethnic group.
Problems such as preterm birth and a high infant mortality rate can be attributed to many different factors, but some of the main concerns that have been addressed with this issue are poverty, general lack of access to health care, and a shortage of information provided to certain communities.
Minority Health Month takes time out of the year to bring these issues to light in the public eye, to get the word out there and let people know how they can help make a difference in their communities, as well as helping to get information out to those who are unaware of their resources. This year’s theme put out by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health is Advance Health Equity Now: Uniting Our Communities to Bring Health Care Coverage to All. The campaign is working tirelessly to help bring health insurance to all the minority communities who currently go underrepresented, or unrepresented. To learn more about how you can help spread the word and how these disparities are affecting communities around the nation, visit http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/actnow/.