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April is National Minority Health Month

Armen Hareyan's picture

April is being observed as National Minority Health Month across the nation and in South Carolina by proclamation from Governor Mark Sanford, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported today.

"The goals of the observance include raising and expanding awareness about health disparities in minority communities and implementing strategies to address these disparities," said Gardenia Ruff, director of DHEC's Office of Minority Health. "In South Carolina, racial and ethnic minorities experience higher rates of a variety of health concerns than other populations."

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DHEC statistics indicate that in South Carolina, minorities are nearly twice as likely to die from a stroke as whites and are also more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes. African-American males in the state are nearly three times as likely to die of prostate cancer as white males and African-American females are nearly twice as likely to die from breast cancer as their white counterparts.

"There are many underlying causes and reasons for health disparities which range from unhealthy lifestyles such as poor nutrition, smoking, lack of physical activity, and other risky behaviors to unequal access to medical care and unequal health care treatment," Ruff said. "What are needed are effective strategies, at the individual, community, health care and policy levels that address the unique cultural needs of the minority population. This is crucial in preventing disease, promoting health and delivering appropriate care supported by policies and programs."

Ruff said South Carolinians are finding creative ways to address these problems at the community level. Some of the activities include:

  • A minority health summit in Simpsonville April 14. Contact Olivia DeCastro (864) 455-1488
  • A community fellowship day in Blythewood April 14. Contact Tina McCorkle (803) 712-1015
  • A health revival in Gadsden April 21. Contact Cheryl Armstead (803) 777-4137
  • A men's health fair in Lancaster April 21. Contact Carla Reed (704) 400-6496
  • An HIV/AIDS workshop in Columbia April 28. Contact David Lucas (803) 531-0135

As part of the observance, DHEC's Office of Minority Health has developed a calendar of health disparity events and initiatives that can be seen on its Web site at http://www.scdhec.gov/omh.