Florida Health Experts Meet To Discuss Means of Addressing State Racial Health Disparities
Florida health experts on Wednesday began a three-day summit to address racial health disparities in the state, the AP/Miami Herald reports (AP/Miami Herald, 8/13). Health experts have identified gaps in seven areas of health care: cancer, diabetes, heart disease, oral health, adult and child immunizations, maternal/infant health and HIV/AIDS. Summit participants will focus on developing strategies to close the gaps, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The Sentinel reports that minorities in the state face a number of barriers to accessing health care that make them less healthy than their white counterparts, including a lack of health insurance. The 2004 Florida Health Insurance Study found that 31% of Hispanics and 22% of blacks younger than age 65 were uninsured, compared with 14.3% of whites.
Susan Fleming, program administrator for the state cancer program, noted that while the incidences of cervical cancer are similar among different groups in the state, "mortality rates are higher" for low-income and less-educated populations. Across the state, 910 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2005, and of those women, 39% of Hispanics and 52% of blacks were diagnosed during the advanced stages of the disease, compared with 44% of whites.
Josephine Mercado, executive director of the Hispanic Health Initiative, said minority women need more education about the causes and available treatments for cervical cancer. She said, "Many of the chronic diseases that we have found in the community can be prevented or controlled with more health education," adding, "We have to start giving people the tools. And we haven't been doing it" (Hernandez, Orlando Sentinel, 8/13).