Health Disparities and Hoops

07/13/09 Carson Frame
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On Saturday in Tampa, the University Area Community Center played host to “Health Disparities and Hoops,” an event aimed at promoting public awareness about health care inequities and issues plaguing the American population. The event also targeted youth smoking prevention with the use of educational games. After signing a smoke-free pledge card, younger attendees were given the opportunity to shoot hoops with a University of Tampa basketball coach. Meanwhile, vendors offered free basic health screenings to those who were interested.

With the support of President Obama, Congress recently passed an historic anti-smoking bill allowing the FDA to regulate tobacco products. This legislation primarily restricts creative marketing techniques used to attract new smokers. One volunteer with the Knowledge Is Power initiative voiced her approval of the new measure, but thought that more should be done.

“Health Disparities and Hoops” was made possible by Knowledge Is Power, a Moffitt Cancer Center program in partnership with Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries. In an effort to promote the library as a free resource for education, participants could sign up for a library card on site.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, health disparities refer to gaps in the quality of health and health care across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines. Dr. Lee Green, Vice President of Moffitt Diversity, discussed the current state of this problem. He cited a number of contributing factors, such as perceived susceptibility and language barriers. He also emphasized that a lack of access, education, and early screening is directly responsible for health disparities in the U.S.

Roberto Ramos, a coordinator for strategic initiatives at Moffitt Cancer Center, believes that health disparities are a devastating and unacceptable reality. He shared some statistics about how health disparities are affecting the Latino community, and explained that cultural and social barriers often impede quality health care.

Later in the program, Dr. Brian Rivers, Assistant Director of Moffitt Diversity, talked about the unusual rates of prostate cancer within the black community. Rivers also stressed the importance of fighting the disease. In addition to his speech, Rivers described a unique initiative which involves barbers in the process of educating African American men about prostate cancer prevention.

People also had lots to say about health disparities like that of insurance coverage. Karen Dalton, founder of Miles for Moffitt, believes that health insurance should be separate from employment.

Nikki Ross-Inda, community outreach liaison at Moffitt and organizer of “Health Disparities and Hoops,” advocates a collaborative approach to health insurance gaps. She hopes that the Bay Area can set an example for the rest of the U.S.

“Health Disparities and Hoops” is one in a series of events presented by the Knowledge Is Power initiative.

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