APHA Conference Addresses Racial Disparities
Public health advocates and government officials gathered this week at the American Public Health Association's annual conference to discuss ways to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care and medical treatment. This year's focus on minority health at the APHA conference "reflects the U.S. Surgeon General's efforts to put the concerns of racial and ethnic groups at the top of the American agenda and the desire of states to get a better handle on the needs of their increasingly diverse populations," the
Sacramento Bee reports. APHA Executive Director Dr. Mohammad Akhter joined Satcher on Monday in signing a "memorandum of understanding" to develop a national strategy to handle the causes of the disparities, which include poor education, lack of access to health insurance and poverty.
Efforts to eliminate racial disparities are already underway at the state level. California is poised to launch "one of the largest surveys ever" this month to determine the health needs of state residents. The California Health Interview Survey, which will be conducted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, "will capture a broad range of information on California's diverse population -- insurance coverage and access to health care, as well as people with chronic health problems such as asthma and diabetes and the extent to which they get care," according to UCLA Center Director E. Richard Brown. He added that the survey, unlike past surveys, will amass data on "smaller ethnic groups" such as Cambodians and Vietnamese, rather than lumping them together as "Asians" and "Pacific Islanders." "This will give us a much better picture to allow public health officials to intervene and to allow state advocacy groups to develop new policies to more effectively address the problems," Brown said.
The Bee cites two other statewide efforts that have addressed racial disparities in health care: the Family PACT program, which has made "dramatic strides" in reducing unintended pregnancies, and the Healthy Families program, which has enrolled more than 300,000 previously uninsured children (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 11/15).