MINORITY HEALTH: Experts Call For More Research
The federal government needs to step up its efforts to study racial disparities in health care, former HHS Secretary Louis Sullivan told Congress Wednesday. Sullivan's announcement came as House and Senate members considered legislation that would direct NIH to create a special office dedicated to research on racial, sexual and regional disparities in health care, the Hartford Courant reports. Sullivan cited two recent studies that found inadequate federal research on racial care differences. The first study showed that while minorities suffer disproportionately from every form of cancer, the National Cancer Institute committed less than 1% of its budget to study the problem. The second study found that African American researchers received less than half of 1% of NIH research grants. Acting NIH Director Ruth Kirschstein confirmed that the "evidence of health disparities in this country is striking and beyond dispute." Appearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions public health subcommittee, Kirschstein outlined some of the racial disparities in health care, including:
- Infant mortality rates among African Americans and Native Americans that are twice as high compared to whites;
- A mortality rate among pregnant African American women that is four times higher than for white women;
- A 40% higher mortality rate from heart disease and an 80% higher mortality rate from stroke among African Americans than whites;
- A risk for cervical cancer that is five times higher for Vietnamese American women and two times higher for Hispanic women than for white women.