Miami-Dade County, Fla., Town Hall Addresses Health Disparities Facing Black Residents
Miami-Dade County, Fla., health officials on Monday held a town hall discussion that focused on addressing health care disparities among black residents, the Miami Herald reports. According to county health records, blacks are more than twice as likely to die of asthma, cancer, diabetes and other diseases than whites and Hispanics. They also are eight times more likely to die of HIV/AIDS, according to the Herald. County health officials maintain that while factors such as diet and stress may contribute to the disparities, racial issues likely are a larger contributor.
Many of the health issues that blacks face are linked to race, rather than income or socioeconomic status, Marsha Jenakovich, senior health and evaluation specialist for local not-for-profit Health Council of South Florida, said. Jenakovich said, "There's a problem when we're seeing that a No. 1 risk factor to one's health is being black."
To address the situation, officials plan to implement the Work Site Wellness Program, which encourages people to take lunchtime walks during work hours. In addition, Jenakovich said the council is developing a list of health care providers who have received cultural competency training to help better serve minority patients.
Karen Weller, director of community health and planning for the Miami-Dade County Department of Health, said, "We're trying to understand why neighborhoods in the county with people of primarily African and Caribbean descent suffer worse health outcomes than their counterparts," adding, "As we identify the reasons for the disparities we can reduce them" (Bailey, Miami Herald, 7/20).