National Council of La Raza Conference Addresses Racial Health Disparities
Health care advocates this week addressed health disparities between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza in Miami, the AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. Advocates at the conference, which ended yesterday, addressed a number of health problems that disproportionately affect Hispanics, such as breast cancer, diabetes and HIV/AIDS. According to a 1999 CDC report, Hispanics are 1.7 times more likely to die of cancer, 1.4 times more likely to die of coronary heart disease and four times more likely to receive an AIDS diagnosis than non-Hispanic whites. Advocates attributed the disparities to a lack of Spanish-language health information and physicians who speak Spanish, as well as a lack of health insurance. About 35% of Hispanics younger than age 65 did not have health insurance in 2000, compared with 13% of non-Hispanic whites, according to the CDC. Carlos Ugarte, deputy vice president for health at La Raza, said, "We're able to evidence in black and white this gap, this disparity, between the Hispanic and non-Hispanic population. This is a reality. There's no denying it." He added, "We have to work toward changing it." Nathan Stinson, a deputy assistant secretary at HHS, said that NIH has conducted research to identify health disparities and develop plans to help address the problem. "When we look back, historically, at the improvements in the health of everyone, there have been great strides," but some diseases still disproportionately affect minority groups, Stinson said. He added, "That, in our view, becomes a real drag on the vitality of this nation."
The conference also addressed health care problems that affect Hispanics who reside on the U.S.-Mexico border. Salvador Balcorta, executive director of a community health center in El Paso, Texas, said, "We still have Third World diseases on the border with real high rates of hepatitis A, tuberculosis, things that the rest of the country at times think they're not in danger of." He attributed the problem to a shortage of doctors and clinics on the border. Balcorta said that medical schools could offer incentives, such as loan payment assistance, to students who agree to practice in underserved areas on the border (Kong, AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 7/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.