Thursday, August 30, 2012

Town Hall meeting in Ft. Collins to address health disparities

Community members, public health professionals and elected officials are invited to participate in a town hall meeting Thursday, Sept. 13, in Fort Collins to discuss local and regional health disparity and minority health issues. The meeting will highlight public health efforts to combat health disparities, and include brief presentations about regional projects.

The meeting is 4-6 p.m. at the Northside Aztlan Community Center, 112 E. Willow St. in Fort Collins.

Mauricio Palacio, director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Office of Health Disparities, said, “Communities of color are disproportionately affected by disease, disability and death. These health disparities exist across all health areas, including chronic disease, communicable disease, injury, and maternal and child health. Addressing health disparities is critical in public health and health care today.”

Some of the health disparities to be discussed at the meeting are detailed in the 2009 Health Disparities Data Sheets, which are fact sheets published by the Office of Health Disparities. The fact sheets highlight demographic information, risk factors, conditions, diseases and causes of death that disproportionately affect Hispanics/Latinos, African-Americans/Blacks, American Indians/Native Americans and Asians/Pacific Islanders.

Highlights from the 2009 fact sheets include the following:
  • Hispanics/Latinos are less likely to drink or smoke during pregnancy, but have a teen birth rate almost three times higher than the state’s rate. Nearly twice as many Latinos are living below the poverty level as the overall state population. Latino children are almost twice as likely to be obese, and more than twice as many Latinos are uninsured than Coloradans as a whole. 
  • African-Americans/Blacks are less likely to engage in binge drinking and they show steadily declining teen birth rates. But they experience much higher infant death and low-weight births than the state population as a whole. They have higher rates of new cases of tuberculosis, gonorrhea and HIV/AIDS than the state population. Nearly twice as many African- American/Blacks are living below the poverty level as the overall state population. 
  • For American Indians/Native Americans the rate of infant deaths and low weight births are basically the same as for the population as a whole. Nearly twice as many American Indians/Native Americans are living below the poverty level than the state’s population as a whole. They are more likely to be obese than all Coloradans and less likely to have health insurance than the state’s population.
  • Asian American/Pacific Islanders are less likely to be obese or overweight. However, they experience the highest incidence of tuberculosis and chronic hepatitis B.

The Minority Health Advisory Commission, the Office of Health Disparities at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment are sponsoring the town hall meeting.

The Minority Health Advisory Commission is a statewide advisory group consisting of two state legislators, the department’s executive director and members of various racial and ethnic minority groups. The commission provides a mechanism for community members to provide input on health programming. One of the commission’s key roles is to hold town hall meetings around Colorado to discuss health disparities and minority health issues.

For more information, contact Barbara Quintana at 303-692-2276 or e-mail her are at the Office of Health Disparities, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

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