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April is ‘Minority Health Month’

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INDIANAPOLIS—Everyone in the community has a role in improving health equity and the work can’t wait.

That is the message behind this year’s national Minority Health Month theme. “Health Equity Can’t Wait. Act Now in Your CommUNITY!” is a call for action and unity for local offices of minority health, health departments and all organizations and partners involved and invested in reducing health disparities.

The Office of Minority Health at the Indiana State Department of Health joins minority health advocates and providers nationwide in the annual observance, which is designed to raise awareness about health issues that affect minority populations.

Racial and ethnic minorities often receive poorer quality of care and face more barriers in seeking care including preventive care, acute treatment or chronic disease management, than do non-Hispanic White patients, according to the annual Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality National Health Disparities Reports (NHDR). Since 2002, the NHDR have documented the status of healthcare disparities and quality of care received by racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups in the United States.

“Minority Health Month offers a platform to educate and raise awareness about why health disparities persist in Indiana and what each of us—from the State Health Department to our faith-based organizations to the average citizen—can do about it,” said State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin, M.D. “Activities planned during April are a great way for Hoosiers to get involved to improve the health status of minority populations and learn ways to reduce health disparities in our state.”

Disparities in the health of minorities are prevalent in: blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Non-Hispanic Blacks in Indiana have a diabetes prevalence of 14 percent, while non-Hispanic whites have a prevalence of 9 percent, according to estimates from the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

The Office of Minority Health has put together a calendar of Minority Health-related events taking place throughout April, including events such as Journada de Salud on April 21 and the Black Barbershop Initiative on April 28.

“Minority Health Month is a reminder for all of us to get individuals involved on the local level to help educate people in our state about minority health and improving health equity,” said Antoniette Holt, director of the Office of Minority Health. “This and other minority health issues need to be focused on year-round.”

In July, the Indiana State Department of Health will host the 2012 INShape Indiana Black & Minority Health Fair, as part of the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration. The Health Fair offers a great opportunity for attendees to receive many free health screenings, as well as learn ways to improve health and prevent disease.

In collaboration with organizations around the state, the Indiana State Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health educates Hoosiers about health disparities that affect minorities.

For more information, contact the Office of Minority Health at (317) 233-7685, INOMH@isdh.in.gov, or visit http://www.in.gov/isdh/23551.htm.

To learn more about Minority Health Month, visit http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/.

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