Excerpts from an address by Suzanne Fuller, launching the Lou Fuller Fund at the June 24 PACE Fund Benefit Reception… Excerpts from an address by Suzanne Fuller, launching the Lou Fuller Fund at the June 24 PACE Fund Benefit Reception at Minneapolis Urban League.
I am so pleased to be here this evening for this important occasion and to share my “Vision for Continuing the Struggle to Reduce Health
Disparities,” which began with my mother‹Lou Fuller.
My mother was a true advocate and warrior for eliminating health disparities in ethnic/minority populations wherever the gap existed, but particularly here in Minnesota. She believed that it was important to have a baseline understanding of where these populations were in comparison to the general population and determine the most effective strategies to eliminate those gaps.
Our common goals are simple: increase quality and years of healthy life and eliminate health disparities experienced by racial and ethnic minorities in access to health care and outcome in six areas: mortality, cancer, cardiovascular disease, disabilities, HIV and Immunizations by 2010. These goals were established by the Surgeon General of the United States as the basis for Healthy People 2010. It is my belief, and was that of my mother’s, that the vision or plan to achieve these goals must be clearly defined, communicated and supported by the communities most impacted.
Nowhere are the divisions of race, ethnicity and culture most sharply drawn than in the health of the people in the United States. Despite recent progress in overall health, there continues to be disparities in the incidence of illness and death among African Americans, Latino/Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Alaskan Natives and Pacific Islanders as compared with the US population as a whole.
As I mentioned earlier, the Healthy People 2010 targets six areas of health status and commits federal resources to address these areas: mortality, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and Child and Adult Immunizations.
Research shows, in general, that people of diverse racial, ethnic and cultural heritage are less likely to get regular medical checkups, receive immunizations, and be routinely tested for cancer, when compared with the majority US populations.
A friend recently mentioned that he was going for his annual physical and had also planned to be screened for prostate cancer. I was surprised to learn that the costs of this test is over $1,600. Now, for those individuals who do not have adequate health care how many would be able to afford to pay for this test?
Disparities exist in the prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease and stroke). Racial and ethnic groups that have higher rates of hypertension, tend to develop hypertension at an earlier age and are less likely to undergo treatment to control their high blood pressure.
This is most evident with the recent passing of former Mayor of Atlanta Maynard Jackson, who suffered two heart attacks at the Washington National Airport. He had triple bi-pass surgery several years ago and was warned by his doctors to eat healthier, lose weight and exercise. This is something we have control over and can exercise self-discipline.
Current studies document that despite recent advances, African American and Native American babies still die at a rate that is two or three times higher than the rate for White American babies.
Approximately 16 million people in the US have diabetes. African Americans are 1.7 times more likely, Latino/Hispanic Americans are 2.0 times more likely, and Native Americans are 2.8 times more likely to have Diabetes than whites.
Recent data from prevalence surveys and from HIV/AIDS case surveillance continue to reflect the disproportionate impact of