Former U.S. Surgeon General Addresses Health Issues Facing Black Women at Annual Conference
Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders in an address on Thursday at the 14th Annual Black Women's Conference at the University of Kentucky said poverty, stress, inequalities in health care and discrimination are among the causes of health disparities in the black community, particularly among women, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. The three-day conference, which ended Thursday, was sponsored by the university's African American Studies and Research Program and titled "Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: Addressing Health Disparities Among Black Women." Several hundred people participated in the conference.
Elders said blacks' higher chance of living in polluted areas also can contribute to health disparities. She also discussed sexual health and a need for more preventive care in the U.S. health care system, adding that improved early childhood education and health education in schools, an emphasis on sexual health for male youth and making college more accessible will help reduce health care disparities among all populations. Elders said, "The health and wealth and education of a country is directly related to the health and education of its women," adding, "These are unfinished problems we in this rich country can fix."
Coinciding with the conference, the Kentucky Department of Health & Human Services released 2003 statistics indicating that black women are more likely than their white counterparts to die of cardiovascular disease, stroke and cancer. The statistics also showed that black women were more than twice as likely as white women to die of diabetes, with 58.1 per 100,000 black women dying of the condition, compared with 28.4 per 100,000 white women (Ungar, Louisville Courier-Journal, 3/28).