Saturday, April 17, 2021

Tackling Racial Health Disparities in the Black Community a 20th Century Solution?

April 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Health, Money, News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( Now that COVID 19 has gotten the Nation’s attention, the questions about racial disparities have also started.  The news media started highlighting the percentage of African Americans that have caught and died from the virus and started speculating why the African American rate is higher than other racial groups.  The public health community has been aware of health disparities since 1985.

The real question now is, what will we learn from the pandemic about the diagnosis, treatment, and mitigation, of the virus and other factors related to Black health.  Then what will be the solution for the future?  The answers should provide health care to Black Americans and that African Americans are employed in all facets of delivering that care.

The Federal Government is providing health care to one minority group that should be the template for the Black community.  Established in 1955, The Indian Health Service (IHS) within the  Department of Health and Human Services, provides health services to 2.6 million citizens who are members of the 573 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes.  Its 2019 budget was $5.8 B, and it provides care in 36 states.  The IHS offers care through 15,000 employees, including 776 doctors and 2,380 nurses across 46 designated hospitals and hundreds of outpatient health care centers.

IHS delivers its services through a staff made up of a mixture of Civil Service, federal employees, and the United States Public Health Services (USPHS) Commissioned Officers.  IHS also is authorized a Native American employment preference.  Notably, there is COVID 19 data on the Indian Health Service website; it provided up to date information on TEST: 11,452, POSITIVE: 875, NEGATIVE: 8,055 as of April 11, 2020.

There is not an African American or Black Health Service.  The closest organization in the Federal Government, The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), is a medical research agency for all minorities.  It does not provide health care.  Initially, established in 2000 and evolving into an Institute in 2010, It is charged with researching diseases and other factors that impact minority health, plus promoting and supporting the training of a diverse research workforce.  The Institute has a $330M  budget. Since its inception, it has had numerous challenges achieving its research and workforce development goals.  It has no employment preferences.  Historically black colleges and universities are not involved in the research or in the development of the biomedical workforce.  When you visit the organization’s home page, there is no data on COVID 19 for Blacks or other minority groups.

America can use this pandemic as an opportunity to address Black America’s health by providing quality health care and ensuring that Blacks have required health care and other skills.  The Black America Health Equity Plan should have the following components:

  • A Government Corporation with the mission of providing quality health to African Americans and other minorities
  • Identify the numbers of Health Care Professionals required to provide health to Black communities and assign that mission to HBCUs, and the Uniformed Services University
  • Establish a Health Equity Research Hospital with the mission of studying the impact of Health Disparities on the African Diaspora in the Americas and Africa
  • Develop a program for minority businesses to be involved in pandemic and disaster planning, and for HBCUs and churches to manage and store disaster supplies in Black communities

Since the Snyder Act of 1921, Congress has authorizes funds for “the relief of distress and conservation of health” among American Indians.  Today, Health Care is almost 20% of the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product or $3Trillion annually.  This is an opportunity to examine how America provides health care to marginalized communities.  America has always embraced its diversity as its strength.  As Blacks, and other minorities, become a more significant share of America’s population, developing comprehensive quality health care systems is essential to America’s health and will contribute directly to its continued economic leadership.

Staff Writer; Darold Hamlin

This brother is also President of ETC and can be found online over at; EmergingTechCon.

Also connect with him on Twitter; ETCInnovates and Facebook; ETC.

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