By Dr. Janet Seabrook
April is National Minority Health Month and the perfect time for us to shed light on the many disparities that exist when it comes to health care among racial and ethnic minority populations in the U.S. Although a touchy subject, it’s no secret that people of color are not always afforded the best options and resources designed to improve and/ or maintain a healthy prognosis.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health annually spearheads the observance of National Minority Health Month and has announced this year’s theme as “Partnering for Health Equity.”
At Community HealthNet Centers (CHN), we continue to do our part to promote health equity thro-ugh community outreach, education and programming. We offer primary medical care and behavioral health services to children, adults and seniors. With five locations currently throughout Lake County Indiana, CHN is a network of medical practices with a qualified and dedicated medical staff. CHN provides comprehensive pediatric and adult medical services, and our medical centers are also staffed to provide comprehensive OB and prenatal services.
At first glance, the idea of inequity in the health care industry speaks to the availability of adequate coverage, facilities and professionals to meet the needs of low-income families. However, a closer look at the issue reveals that disparities also exist around social determinants of health such as housing, transportation, employment and other environmental, social and economic conditions that impact health.
So what can we do as a community to address some of the disparities that exist around health issues among minority groups? I have a few thoughts:
Become a healthcare advocate – Too often we allow our loved ones and friends to go to doctor’s appointments and other health-related screenings unaccompanied. Reach out and offer your assistance to transport and stay with them when time allows. Not only will they appreciate the company, but you represent an extra pair of eyes and ears to take in what the medical professionals are sharing about prognoses, medication, symptoms, side effects, next steps for care at home and much more.
Participate in the upcoming census – Soon, representatives from the Census Bureau will be reaching out to obtain information about households across the nation to determine funding for future programs and initiatives. This includes healthcare, so if the people in our communities are not accurately counted, the proper amount of funding and resources will not flow to the areas where the need is the greatest. Make sure you and your family get counted!
Lastly, do your research and stay up on the issues – Information is power. Stay in the know on the progress of health equity through community forums, recently released research and online platforms that discuss governmental actions related to the health. In addition to looking online, contact your local health professionals and get their input on how to raise health equity awareness.
Mark your calendars for April 18, 2018, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. CT. The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities will host a Twitter Chat with other federal partners on the topic “Partnering for Health Equity.” Be sure to follow the discussion at #HealthEquityChat.
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