National Hispanic Conference Focuses on Disparities in Health Care
July 25, 2002
Health care disparities between Hispanics and whites are gaining attention among advocates at this week's National Council on La Raza meeting in Miami. The Hispanic civil rights group held at least one workshop a day on combating problems including high breast cancer rates, early diabetes and the spread of AIDS. Many presentations focused on the health gap between the Hispanic and non-Hispanic population.Adapted from:
Hispanics, according to the latest CDC report (1999), are 1.7 times more likely to die of cancer, 1.4 times more likely to die of coronary heart disease and more than four times more likely to be diagnosed with AIDS. One reason the disparities exist is more Hispanics lack health insurance. About 35 percent of Hispanics younger than age 65 did not have health insurance in 2000, compared with 13 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
Compounding the problem are major shortages of doctors, especially in border regions. "We still have the Third World diseases on the border with real high rates of hepatitis A, tuberculosis, things that the rest of the country at times think they're not in danger of," said Salvador Balcorta, executive director of Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, a community health center in El Paso, Texas.
Language issues also abound. "When you have professional staff in the medical health profession who are bilingual, and understand the culture the patients are coming from, they are able to communicate better with the patients," said Carlos Venegas, educational coordinator at the Multicultural Area Health Education Center that runs Jovenes por la Salud, a youth health program in East Los Angeles.
The National Institutes of Health is conducting more research to identify disparities and what works to reduce them, according to Nathan Stinson, a deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services. Despite "great strides" in overall health, Stinson said, the situation is "abysmal" for minorities regarding certain diseases. "That, in our view, becomes a real drag on the vitality of the nation," he said.
07.25.02; Deborah Kong
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.