Though minorities in the United States face an array of challenges, chief among them may be personal health and well-being.
African Americans, Hispanic Americans and other minority groups are more likely than whites to develop a number of chronic and deadly diseases, according to mounting evidence.
Infant mortality, obesity, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and communicable diseases are among the wide range of health issues for which minorities find themselves at greater risk than whites, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The evidence of health disparities would be easy to ignore were they not so well-documented,” said Stephen B. Thomas, director of the Center for Health Equity and a professor of health services administration in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland. “Members of racial minority groups live sicker and die younger than their white counterparts.”
Researchers have identified a number of factors that help create the various health disparities, among them location, socioeconomic status and access to health insurance and quality health care, said Garth Graham, deputy assistant secretary for minority health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“There are some common factors,” Graham said. “There is no one common cause, but there are common factors.”
The federal government has swung into action on the issue, creating a new institute within the National Institutes of Health to focus on minority health disparities.
The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, which came into being last September as part of the government’s larger health-care reform effort, has been charged with researching differences in incidence and prevalence of disease among America’s population groups.