National Minority Health Month celebrates the one-year anniversary of the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities and the National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity.This significant legislation has set into action a comprehensive national plan to reduce health and healthcare disparities (unequal treatment, unmet healthcare needs, or significantly poor health trends) for racial and/or ethnic minorities.
Statistics surrounding health and healthcare disparities for minorities in the United States give irrefutable evidence that taking a vested interest in decreasing the health equity gap should be a national priority. Below is a selection of data from the 2008 Commonwealth Fund research:
- Seven of 10 blacks are either overweight or obese; blacks are substantially more likely to be obese than other racial groups.
- Black men are 50 percent more likely to have prostate cancer than whites and are more than twice as likely to die from prostate cancer compared to white men with the same disease.
- American Indians/Alaska Natives are nearly twice as likely as whites to have frequent mental distress.
- Hispanics are most likely to lack health insurance coverage, with more than one-third uninsured.
- Hispanics and Asians are less likely to get a same day or next day appointment and more likely to wait six days or longer to see a doctor than whites.
The government has taken the initiative to eradicate these gross inconsistencies by creating the HHS Action Plan and, through Obama’s Affordable Care Act of 2010, opening HHS minority health offices and departments nationwide. The National Minority Health Month slogan “Act Now” calls upon people to be proactive about health equity on the community and individual level as well. Celebrate Health Equity Unity Day on April 2 by attending or helping to organize a Town Hall meeting themed “A Year on the Road to Health Equity” in your town or join in on April 21 for the Health Equity Day of Action by hosting a youth festival themed “Young. Healthy. YouNITED!” During the course of the month, be an advocate for change: find data about minority healthcare disparities specific to your community and share this information with the colleagues, friends, family, and neighbors of your community.
For our part, Culture Coach International will celebrate National Minority Health Month by promoting our work for improving diversity and cultural competency in the healthcare industry, the importance of which is stated in the 2011 HHS Action Plan:
“Racial and ethnic minorities are more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to report experiencing poorer quality patient-provider interactions, a disparity particularly pronounced among the 24 million adults with limited English proficiency.25 Diversity in the healthcare workforce is a key element of patient-centered care. The ability of the healthcare workforce to address disparities will depend on its future cultural competence and diversity.”
Even before the passing of the HHS Action Plan, Culture Coach has been a leader in advocating the importance of cultural competency and diversity strategic planning and training in healthcare facilities. We have already successfully partnered with several major hospitals in the greater Boston area, helping them to create organizational cultures that support and promote cultural competency for the benefit of all patients and especially minority patients. Currently, we are working with a client to increase diversity in the healthcare workforce by training foreign doctors immigrating to the US how to successfully transition through the difficult acculturation process. More information regarding our work in cultural competency in healthcare can be found at:
Celebrating this month, we can all hope to raise the collective awareness and efforts of government officials, communities, families and individuals around issues surrounding minority health. Together significant progress can be made if we share the HHS’ common vision for “A nation free of disparities in health and health care.”
You can find more information about the HHS Action Plan and the scheduled celebration days in the following link:
 (Pg. 3) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Disparities: A Nation Free of Disparities in Health and Health Care. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, [April 2011].