Issue: A health disparity is a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Racial and ethnic minorities still lag behind in many health outcome measures. They are less likely to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy, more likely to suffer from serious illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease, and when they do get sick, are less likely to have access to quality health care. Disparities are documented in many conditions, including: cardiovascular disease, asthma, diabetes, flu, infant mortality, cancer, HIV/AIDS, chronic lower respiratory diseases, viral hepatitis, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, kidney disease, injury deaths, violence, behavioral health, and oral health.
Highlights: The five overall goals and associated strategies include:
- Awareness: Increase public understanding of health disparities by developing partnerships, communications strategies, and new approaches to putting the issues prominently on organizational agendas.
- Leadership: Build the capacity to create community solutions, improve the coordination of funding, and set priorities. Invest in youth, preparing them to be future leaders.
- Health System and Life Experience: Improve access to quality care, including: children’s services for mental health, oral health, vision, hearing, nutrition, and physical activity; and services for older adults. Address social determinants of health through work on issues such as improved high school graduation rates and policies intended to create social, physical, and economic environments in which children can succeed.
- Cultural and Linguistic Competency: Improve diversity in the work force, increasing opportunities to recruit minorities into the health professions. Also, improve cultural competency by supporting better interpreting and translation services and training more community health workers to serve as liaisons between patients and clinicians.
- Data, Evaluation and Research: Acquire and analyze data to enhance decisions through better research coordination, and promote the translation of evidence-based research into practice.
The Affordable Care Act offers the potential to meet these goals and address the needs of racial and ethnic minority populations, by bringing down health care costs, investing in prevention and wellness, supporting improvements in primary care, and creating linkages between the traditional realms of health and social services.
Developed by: The strategy incorporates ideas and comments from thousands of individuals and organizations that were solicited through focused stakeholder meetings and a call for public comments.
Intended Use: The strategy is the product of the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities (NPA), which was organized by the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH). Eleven other federal cabinet-level departments collaborated and provided guidance. The strategy is intended to stimulate a comprehensive, community-driven approach to achieve health equity through new collaborations within the health sector and with others, such as agriculture, commerce, defense, education, environment, housing, justice, labor, transportation and veteran’s affairs. Local stakeholders can identify which goals are most important for their communities and adopt the most effective strategies to help reach them.
More Information: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/npa