The Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have valuable resources on their websites in recognition of National Minority Health Disparities month. This year, CDC and HHS are focusing on health equity and access to affordable healthcare for all.
Health disparities can result from a number of factors – limited access to quality, affordable health care and preventative services, physical activity and fresh food and produce, and unhealthy environments at home and work.
In 2009, health disparities among African-Americans and Hispanics cost private insurers an additional $5.1 billion. Indirect costs associated with unscheduled absences and productivity losses associated with family and personal health problems cost U.S. employers $225 billion annually. Medical and health research can reduce disparities, improve health care delivery and drive down health care costs. A diverse healthcare work force as well as multicultural training for healthcare professionals will also improve patient care.
Click here to learn more about minority health disparities and what can be done to promote health equity for all Americans. Also visit the CDC’s website to read about programs to reduce minority health disparities; their initiatives include vaccination strategies to reduce childhood infection and diabetes educational programs.
The conclusion of “Eliminating Breast Cancer Health Disparities: Communicating to At-Risk Populations,” a white paper recently released by Friends of Cancer Research, is summed up with a quote from breast cancer survivor Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL): “There have been so many advances in screening and treatment of cancer, but all of that is moot if women are not learning about their bodies, taking steps to reduce risk factors, and getting regular and appropriate screening.”
That exemplifies the key takeaway: The white paper is aimed at stakeholders from research to health care delivery, but stakeholders alone won’t be successful in achieving health equity. Patients themselves must be involved too.
The white paper includes four recommendations, with several additional bullet points within each recommendation. The recommendations include:
- Investigate disparities between women with cancer and healthy women;
- Build relationships that work directly with at-risk populations;
- Create expectations for minority participation in the scientific field;
- And use current and emerging technologies to engage a larger number of patients.
Support for the white paper was provided by The Avon Foundation for Women.
Friends of Cancer Research is a Research!America member, and FOCR’s chairperson and founder, Ellen Sigal, PhD, is a Research!America Board member.