Each year in April dozens of organizations come together to help raise awareness about National Minority Health Month. The goal of this health observance is to place a spotlight on the health and health needs of racial and ethnic minority populations in this country. This year’s theme is “Give Your Community a Boost”, which puts a focus on the importance of COVID-19 vaccines, including boosters, to protect communities.
The health of minority groups in the United States
Although there have been significant improvements in the health of most Americans, some groups have been affected by chronic health conditions, death, and disability at higher rates than others. Historically, Black, Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native people have had worse health outcomes than non-Hispanic white people. Currently, these groups are at higher risk of having health problems like obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, compared to non-Hispanic white people. There are many factors driving this, including social, economic and environmental factors just to name a few. Together these make up what are known as social determinants of health — conditions in which you’re born and grow, work, live and age that affect your health throughout your life.
COVID-19 and minority health
Over the course of the last two years, many reports have highlighted the disparities (differences) in COVID-19 rates and serious illness among some racial groups in the United States. Additionally, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note:
- Hospitalization rates for COVID-19 have been higher among non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic or Latino people than non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander and non-Hispanic White people.
- More than 70 percent of cases of Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare but severe condition that occurs about 2 to 4 weeks after the onset of COVID-19, occurred among children who are Hispanic or Latino or non-Hispanic Black.
- Non-Hispanic Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic or Latino people are less likely to have received a booster vaccine against COVID-19 than non-Hispanic White people.
We know there is no one solution to the barriers and inequities that are affecting racial and ethnic minorities, including moms and babies from these groups. March of Dimes is fighting to level the playing field so that all moms, babies, and their families are healthy. Here’s some of the work we’re doing:
- Implicit bias training to increase awareness and stimulate action to address implicit bias in maternity care settings
- Reaching uninsured and underinsured people through the March of Dimes Mom & Baby Mobile Health Centers®, which has provided more than 2,400 medical visits for services like pregnancy testing, care coordination and social support services, all free of charge.
- Advocating for vaccine equity by enlisting local and trusted voices for community conversations and educating families on the importance of routine vaccinations, and where to get them.
Join us as an advocate through the March of Dimes Advocacy Network to call on policymakers to pass legislation that can help reduce health care disparities.