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HHS efforts to accelerate health equity for the nation

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 4/11/2016, 10:03 a.m.
On April 1, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health launched the annual observance ...
The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health launched the annual observance of National Minority Health Month on April 1. HHS Office of Minority Health

Special to The Dallas Examiner

On April 1, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health launched the annual observance of National Minority Health Month. The theme this year, “Accelerating Health Equity for the Nation,” is designed to promote the extraordinary efforts underway by HHS and the Obama administration to reduce disparities, advance equity, and strengthen the health and well being of all Americans.

The observance of the 30th anniversary of the HHS Office of Minority Health also begins during National Minority Health Month. Since its establishment in 1986, the OMH has served as the HHS lead agency for improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs to help eliminate health disparities.

The current transformation of America’s health care system through major legislative and policy changes, such as the Affordable Care Act, has accelerated efforts to improve the health status of minority populations that began more than 30 years ago through the release of the HHS Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health (commonly known as the Heckler Report) in 1985. This report also led to the establishment of the OMH.

During National Minority Health Month and throughout this anniversary year, the OMH will highlight initiatives underway to forge a new era of health equity through public and private sector partners and stakeholder collaboration to address environmental, social and economic conditions known as social determinants of health. These conditions affect daily living in the places where people are born, grow, live, work, learn and age, and have a significant impact on the health outcomes of individuals, families and their communities, and the prosperity of our country.

To increase momentum toward achieving health equity, multi-sectorial efforts are increasing across federal, national, state, local, tribal and territorial partners, including OMH grantees, to reverse and repair the devastating impact of high school dropout rates, unsafe neighborhoods, unhealthy homes, lack of affordable transportation, pollution, low wage jobs and limited healthy, affordable food options in far too many communities across the country.

The OMH will draw attention to the tremendous steps taken by HHS and the administration to reduce disparities, advance equity and strengthen our nation as a whole by prioritizing high-quality education, safe neighborhoods, healthy housing, reliable transportation, clean air, stable employment and nutritious foods. By taking these measures, collectively we will build a stronger foundation for our nation’s increasingly diverse populations to prosper for generations to come.

The OMH invites partners of all sectors to join efforts in April, and all year long, in creating a healthier nation. Visit the National Minority Health Month website to obtain toolkit materials and other information, share your health equity activities and programs, and sign up for OMH updates.