Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day Raises Awareness About Health Disparities

Sunday, September 17, 2006 | 07:00pm

Better Health Can be Achieved through Regular and Preventive Care

Nashville, September 18, 2006

Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day on September 19 aims to raise awareness about health disparities, motivate people to adopt healthier lifestyles and encourage everyone to seek regular health care visits and screenings, and make sure their loved ones do the same.  It also focuses on creating a greater understanding in minority communities about the importance improving health outcomes and eliminating health disparities through prevention and early detection. 

A part of the national campaign Closing the Health Gap created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day focuses on improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations, which tend to have the highest burden of disease and the least access to health care.  Racial and ethnic minorities experience serious disparities in health access and outcomes in regards to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality and vaccine preventable diseases.

“Regular checkups and early detection are the most effective mode of preventing most illnesses, including stoke, heart disease and diabetes, all of which disproportionately affect too many racial and ethnic minorities,” said Health Commissioner Kenneth S. Robinson, MD.  “Respect your health and schedule a checkup today, and encourage your loved ones to do the same.”

In July, the Department released the Populations of Color in Tennessee: Health Status Report, which details the demographics of the state and mortality rates, causes of death, birth-related indicators, financial indicators, and risk and disease disparities evident within those demographics. Community town hall meetings provided input on how to reduce health disparities among people of color in the state. 

The 11th Annual Health Summit of Minority Communities, held August 16-18 in Knoxville, highlighted the Populations of Color in Tennessee report and presented various means for addressing health disparities in Tennessee. In an ongoing effort to highlight those health disparities that affect minority populations in Tennessee, the theme of this year’s Summit was “Embracing a Common Destination:  Improving Health Outcomes for Communities of Color.”  The Annual Health Summit provides a forum for professionals at the state and national level to exchange ideas focused on the development of strategies designed to improve the overall health and well-being of minority communities, and how to implement those strategies. 

“Disparities result not only in a lower overall quality of life among those impacted, but their families and communities as well,” said Disparity Elimination Director Darlene Jenkins, DrPH. “Regardless of age, race, ethnicity or gender, all Tennesseans can seek better health by scheduling a check up today.”

While Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day is specifically targeted toward minorities who suffer from the greatest health disparities, all Tennesseans are urged to focus on prevention and early detection, and can start by going to a health care professional for a checkup. Forty-eight health departments statewide now offer primary care services for uninsured adults, providing treatment of acute illnesses and management of chronic diseases, as well as basic laboratory services and a limited pharmacy.

For more information on health disparities in Tennessee or to view the Populations of Color in Tennessee: Health Status Report, please visit http://www.tn.gov/health/. For a list of local health departments, visit the Department of Health’s Web site at www2.state.tn.us/health/LocalDepts/index.html.

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