Black History Month-Addressing health disparities
Nicole Echols, Director of External Affairs
Throughout the years, Black History Month has been a time to celebrate the achievements of black leaders all over the world. It is often an opportunity to focus on historical accomplishments as opposed to negative disparities. Unfortunately, data from entities such as the CDC show that African-Americans suffer from hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes at a much higher rate than their white counterparts. This puts a unique twist on utilizing Black History Month as a time to create a platform for preventive health in the black community.
Several factors are prevalent when looking at the disparities that exist. Genetics has been seen as one possible factor, with studies showing that African-Americans respond differently to high blood pressure medications, insulin, and salt intake, in many instances.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, African-American adults are 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician. These factors, coupled with negative disparities in access to healthcare, create a ripple effect that leaves the black population more vulnerable to less than desirable outcomes.
During this Black History Month, we want to highlight some ways to help change these outcomes and create more equitable health results for all people.
· Continue advocating for equity in healthcare and making sure our providers and affiliates are mindful of the negative dialogue that fosters implicit bias that exists in some settings, including some healthcare providers.
· Advocate for better diets, exercise, and timely doctor visits for members of the black community. African- Americans are less likely to trust healthcare providers, resulting in late diagnosis of potentially life-threatening conditions. This would take a holistic approach of educating and enlightening our families, friends, and the community at large.
· Continue to celebrate the accomplishments of black doctors and medical professionals. Not just past, but present. Celebrating current heroes can go a long way in helping build trust in the black community.
While we celebrate Black History Month keep in mind the disparities exist disproportionately among the African-American community. One way to close the gaps and to get past these disparities is to help develop our healthcare leaders and educate our communities. By doing so, we build trust and accountability, creating better outcomes and improved health for the African-Americans community.