National Minority Health Month gives everyone the opportunity to raise awareness about health and health care disparities that affect minorities and to demonstrate efforts to advance health equity. For the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Minority Health Month takes special significance as this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health which was released under the leadership under the former HHS Secretary Margaret Heckler in 1985 and is commonly referred to as the Heckler Report. This particular anniversary is commemorated in this year’s National Minority Health Month’s theme “30 Years of Advancing Health Equity | The Heckler Report: A Force for Ending Health Disparities in America.” The landmark report being celebrated this month was the first time a group of health experts was convened by the US government to study comprehensively racial and ethnic minority health while elevating minority health to a national stage. Although the Heckler Report helped to begin the process of studying and raising awareness of health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities, health disparities continue within minority groups, including people with disabilities.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outline the six recommendations made by the Heckler Report, which help serve as a cornerstone for much of today’s health equity work done by the CDC. In support of HHS’ action plan to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities, the CDC have several projects to help increase health equity. These projects include:
- Million Hearts, which is an HHS wide initiative that is collaborated on by the CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
- The Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (CORD) Project looks to determine if coordinated approaches in the community that support healthy behaviors can improve underserved children’s health.
- Reducing Influenza Vaccine Disparities is supported by the CDC and is comprised of multi-sector partners that work together to promote vaccination among underserved populations, including African Americans and Hispanics.
- CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholars (CUPS) Program consists of several internship opportunities that expose undergrad students interested in minority health to the field of public health research and practice.
Check out of all of the CDC’s programs and projects dealing with health disparities.
Individuals with disabilities also face disparities in health care, and those from minority communities may find those barriers multiplied. Several NIDILRR-funded projects have looked at these disparities for individuals in both minority and majority groups. Some of those projects include:
- Center on Health Outcomes Research and Capacity Building for Underserved Populations with SCI and TBI (H133A080064) builds the capacity of institutions that address the health needs of underserved populations, such as African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans.
- Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Psychiatric Disability and Co-occurring Medical Conditions (H133B100028) conducts projects to identify and reduce health disparities for people with psychiatric disabilities.
- Rusk Rehabilitation Traumatic Brain Injury Model System of Care at NYU (H133A120100) is generating new knowledge and scientific evidence to improve the health outcomes for all people with traumatic brain injury by developing interventions, clinical assessment and outcome tools, and expanding service delivery.
We ran a search of articles within the NARIC collection that resulted in over 180 articles dealing with health disparities. Here are just a few:
- The intersection of disability and healthcare disparities: A conceptual framework (J70491). This article provides a framework for understanding the health disparities experienced by people with disabilities.
- Stroke recovery and prevention barriers among young African-American men: Potential avenues to reduce health disparities. (J70212). This article discusses a study that evaluated the barriers to post-stroke care experienced by young African American men and their caregivers.
- Promoting a new research agenda: Health disparities research at the intersection of disability, race, and ethnicity. (J69800). This article is an introduction to a journal issue that examines the evidence of racial and ethnic health disparities within a wide range of populations within the disability community.
If you would like to participate in area events, please visit the OMH’s Events Calendar to see what events are taking place in your area. You can also participate by checking out OMH’s toolkits and Take Action ideas related to National Minority Health Month. If you would like to learn more about health disparities, check out the CDC’s Health Disparities & Inequalities Report (CHDIR), visit Healthy People 2020 to learn more about creating social and physical environments that promote good health for everyone, and attend the 2015 National Leadership Summit on Health Disparities on April 20 and 21st.