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Needs Of Minorities Not Considered In Programs Of Preparedness For Public Health Emergencies

Armen Hareyan's picture

Government officials during the past 30 years often have not consideredthe specific needs of blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic andracial minorities in programs and materials related to preparedness forpublic health emergencies, according to a study published in theSeptember/October issue of the journal Health Affairs, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

For the study, Dennis Andrulis, director of the Center for Health Equalityat the Drexel University School of Public Health, and colleaguesexamined academic literature. The study found that, compared withwhites, ethnic and racial minorities had fewer concerns about publichealth emergencies, were more skeptical of warnings, were less likelyto evacuate, were less likely to receive education on preparedness, andrelied more on television and family for information.

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Researchersalso reviewed 301 Web sites that provide information on preparednessfor public health emergencies and found that only 12.6% considered thespecific needs of ethnic and racial minorities.

The study citedthe need to resolve language barriers, ensure that information onpreparedness for public health emergencies addresses the specific needsof ethnic and racial minorities, coordinate government outreach andconsider the needs of such individuals in federal and statepreparedness plans. According to the study, "The cost of inaction, asevidenced by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, offers a graphicportrait of what happens when the unique needs of communities are notpart of preparedness planning and execution."

Andrulis said,"They live among us, and there is crisscross, and ebb and flow amongpopulations. Emergencies don't know geographical and ethnic boundaries.... If you think you are a white person and don't need to be concernedabout diverse populations being ready for an emergency, then you'refooling yourself," adding, "It can affect you" (Cook, Philadelphia Inquirer, 9/23).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser WeeklyHealth Disparities Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.