Health Disparities in U.S. Still Persist According to Report

According to a special June issue of the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH)  [External Web Site Policy] , released today,significant disparities in the burden of disease and illness experienced by different groups persist.  The articles highlight the need for greater understanding of the relationship between social, cultural, biological, behavioral, economic and neighborhood (place) factors when addressing health disparities.

In the three decades since the landmark Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health  [External Web Site Policy]  (known as the Heckler Report) was released, advances in the country’s state of knowledge of the major factors underlying health disparities have led to a wealth of data about racial and ethnic minority health and health inequities.  This ground-breaking report provided an assessment of the major factors contributing to the health status of Blacks, Hispanics, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, and American Indians and Alaska Natives and elevated minority health to the national stage. 

The new issue, which is currently available online, features commentary from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) at the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Office of Minority Health.

An editorial by Irene Dankwa-Mullan, M.D., NIMHD acting deputy director of the Division of Extramural Scientific Programs, and Yvonne T. Maddox, Ph.D., NIMHD acting director, reports that NIMHD will embark on a bold vision that will challenge researchers to employ newer, innovative strategies and ideas to address and solve health disparities.  Planning for this strategic visioning will include an iterative process to deliberate on fundamental issues that are critical to understanding health, such as the role of chronic stress, resilience and health outcomes.

“We need to ask ourselves what is next to deepen our understanding of the biological and non-biological determinants for health disparities,” said Dr. Maddox.  “It’s critical that we find the path forward to greater discovery and then translate this into practice and policy.”

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