April is Minority Health Month

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 | 07:00pm

Populations of Color Health Status Report to be Released at End of Month

Nashville, April 13, 2006

Through a proclamation signed by Governor Phil Bredesen, Tennessee is joining the entire nation this month in celebrating April as Minority Health Month in Tennessee. Minority Health Month, created in April 2001 by the National Minority Health Month Foundation in partnership with the federal Office of Minority Health, is intended to raise awareness about health issues that affect minority populations and encourage organizations, community groups and individuals to get involved in activities to promote better health and eliminate health disparities.

“While we continue to address issues that adversely affect the health and wellness of all Tennesseans, we must focus intently upon those illnesses that disproportionately affect people of color in our great state,” said Governor Bredesen.

In March, Governor Bredesen announced plans to launch a major public health effort aimed at reducing diabetes as a part of Cover Tennessee. African-Americans and Hispanics are two to three times more likely to have diabetes as compared to white adults.

“As the Commissioner of the Department of Health, as an African-American and as a medical doctor, I take special interest in the health of minority communities,” said Health Commissioner Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D. “Eliminating gaps in the health of all Tennesseans, particularly citizens of color, is a major public health goal; one I have spent my entire professional career in Tennessee addressing. I am now grateful for the opportunity to continue to focus the Tennessee Department of Health on this goal.” 

A report on status of health disparities in Tennessee’s minority populations will be released by the Office of Minority Health at the end of April. The report, Populations of Color Health Status, details the demographics of the state and the mortality rates, causes of death, birth-related indicators, financial indicators and risk and disease

disparities within those demographics, as well as community responses from across the state with recommendations and challenges in reducing health disparities.  

African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and other minority populations are more likely than whites to have poor health and to die prematurely from chronic conditions, communicable diseases and injuries. These populations are also less likely to have health insurance coverage or receive preventive care, and are more likely to report unmet health care needs.  

Health disparities can affect the youngest Tennesseans as well. Tennessee is ranked 48th worst in the nation for the rate of infant mortality (or the number of infants who die at any point prior to reaching the age of one per 1,000 live births). African-American babies are twice as likely to die before their first birthday as white babies, and black mothers are also twice as likely to receive inadequate or no prenatal care as white mothers. Further, black infants die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) more than twice as often as white infants. 

“Unlike any other time in recent history, minority communities are seeking to improve their health outcomes, said Robbie M. Jackman, director of the Office of Minority Health.  “History has proven time and time again that when we pool our resources and come together around a common agenda, positive change is indeed possible. The same is true for eliminating health disparities. Minority Health Month is another opportunity for individuals, families and organizations to get involved in improving and sustaining the highest quality of living for all communities.” 

The Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health has compiled a comprehensive calendar of Tennessee events planned for Minority Health Month. A listing of events planned around the state can be found on the Office of Minority Health’s Web site at http://www2.state.tn.us/health/minorityhealth/.  For more information on Minority Health Month in Tennessee, please contact the Office of Minority Health at (615) 741-9443 or toll free 1-877-606-0089.

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