Tennessee Department of Health Assesses Health Status of Populations of Color

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 | 07:00pm

Report Details Minority Health Indicators, Disparities
Nashville, TN

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH), Office of Minority Health, today released Populations of Color in Tennessee: Health Status Report. The report details the demographics of the state, and the mortality rates, causes of death, birth-related indicators, financial indicators, and the risk and disease disparities evident within those demographics. Also provided in the report is input from communities across the state, including respondents’ recommendations regarding the reduction of health disparities among people of color in the state.

“Populations of Color in Tennessee: Health Status Report identifies specific minority and ethnic groups that have disproportionately poor health status, and challenges all of us to work together to eliminate these inequalities,” said Governor Phil Bredesen.

Health Commissioner Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D., agrees: “This Department is clearly committed to reducing racial and ethnic health disparities in our state. Therefore, we will continue to quantify and assess the progress made on the health indicators described in this report. Indeed, our health education and promotion programs are already closely reviewing its findings to shape their health interventions for better health outcomes.”

The report was prepared in response to House Joint Resolution 91, which acknowledged the extent of health disparities in Tennessee and asked the Department of Health and the Bureau of TennCare to conduct a joint study that assesses existing disparities in health care in Tennessee. This is the Department’s second comprehensive report focusing exclusively on the health of people of color. The first report, Narrowing the Gap, was published in 1997.

In collaboration with the Tennessee Minority Health Community Development Coalition, Inc., minority health forums were held earlier this year in Memphis, Jackson, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Johnson City, where findings of health disparities in various regions were discussed with community members, and where local reflections and responses were solicited to include in the report.

Also in an ongoing effort to highlight health disparities that affect minority populations in Tennessee, the TDH Office Minority Health, in collaboration with the Tennessee Black Health Care Commission, the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators and the Tennessee Minority Health and Community Development Coalition, Inc., will host the 11th annual Health Summit of Minority Communities on August 16-18, in Knoxville. This year’s theme is, “Embracing a Common Destination: Improving Health Outcomes for Communities of Color.” Populations of Color in Tennessee: Health Status Report will be an undercurrent in the numerous workshops to be held throughout the summit, which will offer both continuing education units and continuing medical education credit hours. For more information on registration, contact the Office of Minority Health at (615) 741-9443.

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.

“The Office of Minority Health has dedicated more than a decade to promoting policies and programs that improve minority health,” said Robbie M. Jackman, director of the Office of Minority Health. “The recommendations and policies laid out in this report reflect the continued collaborations with community stakeholders. This report certainly will work to our communities of color’s advantage as we partner for optimal health.”

The report will be available on the Department of Health’s Web site at http://www2.state.tn.us/health/minorityhealth/Populations_of_Color.pdf.

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