Minority Health Disparities in the United States

25 03 2010

In the United States racial and ethnic minorities suffer from worse health compared to their white counterparts. The CDC and FamiliesUSA state that the statistics as of 2008 for minority health disparities are:

  • American Indians are 638 percent more likely to suffer from alcoholism, 400 percent more likely to contract tuberculosis, 67 percent more likely to have pneumonia or influenza, and 20 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease then whites.
  • African-American men are 50 percent more likely to suffer from prostate cancer than white men, and they are more than twice as likely as white men to die as a result of the cancer.
  • American Indians are more than twice as likely to suffer from diabetes as whites.
  • Although they made up only 26 percent of the U.S. population, African Americans and Latinos accounted for 67 percent of newly reported AIDS cases.
  • The maternal mortality rate for African-American women is nearly five times the maternal mortality rate for white women
  • Private health insurance coverage among persons under age 65 was only 40% for Hispanics/Latinos, compared to 75.6% for non-Hispanic whites

Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated, “the success or failure of any government in the final analysis must be measured by the well-being of its citizens. Nothing can be more important to a state than its public health; the state’s paramount concern should be the health of its people.” Now my question is, are we succeeding or failing?


International Women’s Day 2010

9 03 2010

Women advocating for women's health around the world at the 2009 conference for International Women's Day

Since gender is one of the contributors to health disparities, the WHO (World Health Organization) is doing all that they can to promote healthy lifestyles for women by providing opportunities for them to receive health care and health education. The WHO has created an international women’s day, which falls on March 8th every year.  The theme for International Women’s Day this year is “Equal rights, equal opportunities: progress for all” which re-emphasizes that equal rights and opportunities lead to improved health outcomes for women and girls.

Gender norms and values give rise to gender inequalities. The fact that, throughout the world, women on average have lower cash incomes than men is an example of a gender inequality.  Both gender differences and gender inequalities can give rise to inequities between men and women in health status and access to health care. For example, a woman cannot receive needed health care because norms in her community prevent her from travelling alone to a clinic. A married woman contracts HIV because societal standards encourage her husband’s promiscuity while simultaneously preventing her from insisting on condom use.

Health Disparities Linked with Economic Gaps

20 02 2010

This is a typical home in the slums of Guatemala

This is a typical style of home in the wealthy areas of Guatemala

Health disparities are almost directly correlated with economic disparities within a country and between countries.  It is very common for health disparities to exist within a country when there are extreme gaps in wealth.    For example, Guatemala is a country in Central America and is one of the poorest countries in Latin America.  The distribution of income remains highly unequal with more than half of the population below the national poverty line and just over 400,000 (3.2%) unemployed. The CIA World Fact Book considers 56.2% of the population of Guatemala to be living in poverty.  Therefore, in this country there is extreme wealth and extreme poverty.  The wealthy people of the population can afford medical care which can prevent and treat diseases.   They also have the education necessary to live healthy lives.  The poorer areas do not have the means to provide their families with sanitation let alone having access to medical care and good education.  The government runs a number of public elementary and secondary-level schools. These schools are free, though the cost of uniforms, books, supplies, and transportation makes them less accessible to the poorer segments of society and significant numbers of poor children do not attend school. Many middle and upper-class children go to private schools.  This education availability or lack thereof increases the economic gap even further.

Since these economic gaps make a significant impact on health disparities around the world today, there have been successful interventions to aid this problem.  One of these interventions is Microfinance which is a banking system which allows people in poorer areas to receive loans in order to sustain a business and allows people the opportunity to get out of poverty and provide their families an education, which leads to better health.  Certain areas in India and Africa are places where this banking system has been the most successful.

Help For Amputee’s in Haiti

19 01 2010

For a long time Haiti has been faced with many health disparities since they have had such an unstable economy.  Over 80% of their population live in poverty and almost half of their government’s entire budget comes from foreign aid.  They do not have the money to have proper health care or the means for every Haitian to have access to that health care.  Many Haitians live in slums which are heavily populated where diseases can spread very quickly.

Since the recent earthquake in January, 2010 there have been various countries providing aid to Haiti because of the vast amount of devastation.  A group called Global Relief Technologies (GRT) was featured in a Fox News story about how GRT has sent a crew to Haiti to help the growing amputee population.  They are collecting data and sending it via PDA to their offices in New Hampshire where they create prosthetic limbs to properly fit each individual for each person that they receive information for.  The data being collected includes the person’s name, age, date of amputation, type of amputation, location, and a picture of the injury.  The patient in turn receives a bracelet with a barcode that identifies the person.  This identification bracelet will make the process of distributing the prosthetics much more efficient.  I think that this is a really wonderful idea to help the Haitians and it appears to be really organized.  I just hope that they have a plan in order to help the people who receive these prosthetics with physical therapy or at least train them a little bit on how to use a prosthetic limb.

These are the researchers using their PDA in order to send information back to the United States