Conference on health disparities among minorities begins

08/13/08 Seán Kinane
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Minorities don’t get the same quality of health care as whites in the U.S. A conference addressing these disparities began today in Tampa.

Florida’s Surgeon General Ana Viamonte Ros delivered the keynote address at the 2008 Florida Minority Health Disparities Summit. The theme of the conference is "Bridging the Gap: Embracing Solutions to Eliminate Health Barriers.”

Viamonte Ros said there are seven health areas that disproportionately impact minorities: “HIV-AIDS, immunizations, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, oral health and infant mortality. According to the Centers [For] Disease Control, even though the nation’s infant mortality rate is down, the infant death rate among African-Americans is still more than double that in whites.”

In 1999, Congress requested that the national Institute of Medicine study these disparities which resulted in a report called “Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care,” said state Sen. Athenia Joyner, D-Tampa.

Viamonte Ros said health disparities are especially evident when it comes to HIV infections and AIDS. Viamonte Ros said there are also health outcome disparities in terms of cancer.

“Unfortunately, African-Americans have the highest mortality rate of any racial or ethic group for all cancers combined and for most major cancers. In 2003, African-American women in Florida were 10% less liely to be diagnosed with

Youjie Huang is a chronic disease epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health.

“The disparity between blacks and whites [is an] access issue. I call it a discrimination issue. … We have a lot of data to support this kind of evidence.”

Huang said there is also a disparity in health outcomes between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites. “Hispanics [in a lot of] areas they don’t have access to care. That’s the major issue.”

Jean Klein is deputy secretary with the Florida Department of Health. “Believe it or not, our children might be the first generation that will not outlive their parents.”

Tampa City Council Chair Thomas Scott, who is also a pastor, suggested that churches could play a role in educating people about health disparities. “Churches must begin to team up with the health community.”

The 2008 Florida Minority Health Disparities Summit continues through Friday at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay near the Tampa Airport. We will bring you more from the conference on the Thursday WMNF Evening News.

Photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

2008 Florida Minority Health Disparities Summit agenda

Florida Department of Health

Oral Health Florida

Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care

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