Blog: National Partnership for Action
Posted on 5/31/2012 by J. Nadine Gracia, MD, MSCE
Asthma affects nearly 26 million Americans, including 7 million children. While advancements in treatment and interventions have improved health outcomes for many suffering from this respiratory disease, that progress has not yet reached everyone. Poor and minority children bear the greatest burden of the disease, suffering from asthma at higher rates, experiencing greater exposure to environmental triggers, and receiving less access to quality care.
Today, the Obama Administration launches a new approach to closing that gap: the Coordinated Federal Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Asthma Disparities. The result of a collaborative interagency effort led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Action Plan presents a framework for coordinating federal resources to get the right asthma care with the right support to the children who need it most.
Asthma currently affects 16 percent of non-Hispanic black children, 10.7 percent of American Indian and Alaska Native children, and 7.9 percent of Hispanic children (16.5 percent among Puerto Rican children), compared to 8.2 percent of non-Hispanic white children and 6.8 percent of Asian children. Minority children with asthma are also less likely to receive regular care and recommended treatment, and more likely to be hospitalized for their condition. For example, non-Hispanic black children are twice as likely to be hospitalized and four times more likely to die due to asthma than non-Hispanic white children.
In many instances, the burden of disease among minority children is worsened by social and environmental factors relating to where children live, learn, and play – such as environmental exposures to tobacco smoke, air pollution, mold, or other allergens and pollutants and lack of family resources for asthma management at home.
While we do not yet have interventions that prevent the onset of asthma, we know that there are evidence-based measures that can reduce asthma mortality and improve the quality of life for those living with the disease. The Action Plan seeks to reduce barriers to comprehensive care, improve intervention strategies, and strengthen partnerships among federal programs to better reach communities with racial and ethnic asthma disparities.
In doing so, the Action Plan builds on major federal initiatives to reduce health disparities, promote health equity and expand access to health care - most notably, the Affordable Care Act and the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. The Affordable Care Act represents one of the most significant efforts in our nation's history to increase access to affordable, high-quality care - ensuring, for example, that children cannot be denied health insurance because of pre-existing conditions such as asthma; and investing in community health centers, which provide care to vulnerable and underserved communities. In turn, the HHS Disparities Action Plan provides a coordinated roadmap to realizing a nation free of disparities in health and health care.
Today, as agencies across the government join together in launching a comprehensive effort to address racial and ethnic disparities in asthma, we can celebrate another step forward in fulfilling our vision of a nation where everyone has a chance to live a healthy life. Learn more about the Asthma Disparities Action Plan at http://www.epa.gov/asthma/childrenstaskforce.
Posted in: Health Minority Populations Health Disparities Health Conditions | Comments | Add a Comment | Comment Policy | Permalink
Posted on 10/4/2011 by Garth N. Graham M.D., M.P.H
A recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the increase in seasonal influenza vaccination among minority children for the 2010-11 season, as compared to 2009-10 seasonal coverage.
In 2010-11, vaccination coverage rates among children ages 6 months to 17 years were 55.1 percent for Hispanics, 50.8 percent for non-Hispanic blacks, and 48.5 percent for non-Hispanic whites. While coverage among children increased for each of these racial/ethnic groups from the 2009–10 to 2010–11 seasons, the increases were larger for Hispanic and non-Hispanic black children, eliminating the disparity in child coverage for the 2010–11 season.
Compared to the previous year, vaccination coverage rose 8.2 percentage points among Hispanics (from 46.9 percent in 2009-10), 13.8 percentage points among non-Hispanic blacks (from 37.0 percent) and 5.3 percentage points among non-Hispanic whites (from 43.2 percent). Coverage rates among other children ages 6 months – 17 years were 59.4 percent among Asians and 55.6 percent among non-Hispanic others.
These improvements are very positive, and it is important that we sustain this success in the current and future influenza seasons. I am happy to say that we can attribute such successes in decreasing racial and ethnic health disparities to a multi-factorial approach including the ongoing work of our many national, state and local partners.
In fact, the CDC highlights that health advocates and community partners play an important role, as technologies and strategies are employed that can positively affect local vaccination coverage. Innovative outreach strategies such as drive-through vaccination campaigns, text messaging promotions, and school-located vaccination can all be implemented at a local level through partnerships among health departments and medical clinics, and faith-and community-based organizations. Multi-sector partnerships are an important strategy to continue the momentum towards reducing influenza vaccination disparities.
And while the increase in vaccination among minority children is a noteworthy step on the road toward the elimination of health disparities in this country, there is still work to be done. The CDC's influenza vaccine coverage surveys also indicate that challenges still remain to increase overall vaccination uptake, as the minority adult population's (older than 18 years of age) coverage remained unchanged.
I am confident that our partners are poised to address the challenge of increasing vaccination coverage by expanding outreach efforts, organizing local promotional activities, and ramping up messaging through social media platforms. These and other best practices can be found by visiting www.cdc.gov/flu and accessing free resources and helpful tips to promote the flu vaccine. I encourage you to visit the link above, and to learn more about CDC's flu vaccine coverage data at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/coverage_1011estimates.htm
Thank you for your continued commitment to the elimination of health disparities in the United States.
Posted in: Health Minority Populations Health Conditions Prevention | Comments | Add a Comment | Comment Policy | Permalink
Posted on 6/29/2011 by Garth N. Graham M.D., M.P.H
The Obama Administration is committed to promoting the health and well-being of all Americans, yet when we don’t have accurate information about who we serve, it is difficult to meet the unique needs of diverse communities. Many racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities, and other underserved populations face unique health challenges, have reduced access to health care and insurance, and often pay the price with poorer health throughout their lives. Over the past decade, little progress has been made in reducing these disparities. According to the Institute of Medicine, inadequate data on race, ethnicity, and language lowers the likelihood of effective actions to address health disparities.
But, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, section 4302 invests in the implementation of a new health data collection and analysis strategy. It requires all national federal data collection efforts to collect data on:
HHS also announced a new plan to collect data related to health of LGBT populations. We will integrate questions on sexual orientation into national data collection efforts by 2013 and begin the process to collect information on gender identity. This is a critical step toward development of a government-wide standard for LGBT data collection. By establishing consistent methods for collecting and reporting health data, we will be able to better understand the causes of health problems in underserved populations.
HHS continues to make significant progress toward improving the health of underserved populations. By collecting relevant data in a standardized format, we will be able to continue reducing the health disparities in many underserved communities.
The public may submit comments for the draft minority data collection standards at www.regulations.gov under docket number HHS-OMH-2011-0013. Public comments will be accepted until August 1.
Information is also available here.
Posted in: Health Disparities Health Conditions Rights Protections & Benefits Prevention | Comments | Add a Comment | Comment Policy | Permalink
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The NPA works to achieve health equity -- the highest level of health for all people. This blog is a venue for professionals from all fields and sectors to share their thoughts on pressing issues, news and events pertaining to health equity. Follow and participate in this candid discussion.
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