As a Baby Boomer and child of the 60s, I grew up listening to the Last Poets and the imagery created of a couch potato, with chicken hanging from the mouth missing out on liberation and freedom, has stuck with me for many years. As a Baby Boomer and child of the 60s, I grew up listening to the Last Poets and the imagery created of a couch potato, with chicken hanging from the mouth missing out on liberation and freedom, has stuck with me for many years. Unfortunately today, populations of color, face life threatening challenges to our health and well-being and we are in need of a revolution.
The health disparities we face in the area of diabetes, breast and cervical cancer, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, violence, unintentional injuries and infant mortality pose a significant threat to our individual families and community as a whole. To be clear about the terminology "populations of color" and "health disparities", the following are definitions given by the Minnesota
• The term "populations of color" includes African/African Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Hispanic/Latino, and other racial/ethnic groups.
•The term "health disparity" means a difference in health status between a defined portion of the population and the majority. Disparities can exist because of socioeconomic status, age, geographic area, gender, race or ethnicity, language, customs and other cultural factors, disability or special health need. OMMH focuses on racial/ethnic health disparities
According to the Minnesota Department of Health, although Minnesota has long been noted as one of the healthiest states in the nation, minority populations in Minnesota tend to experience much worse health in several areas. Overall, populations of color and American Indians experience shorter life spans, higher rates of infant mortality, higher incidences of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other diseases and conditions, and poorer general health. These disparities also affect Minnesota's newly arrived immigrants and refugees. In some cases, the disparities are the highest in the nation. This is a distinction that the state of Minnesota simply should not have.
While there are many changes that must take place on a systemic level, there are things we can do as individuals, families and communities to reduce the risk of these disparities. Rather than starting in the abstract, I thought it might be good for me to take a good, hard look at myself and begin at that point.
I am currently the Coordinator for the Community Center of Excellence in Women’s Health at Pilot City Health Center. A significant part of my job is the development of outreach around health education , advocacy and promotion. While I am acutely aware of what it takes to be healthy and whole, I have a confession to make. I have not clearly listened to what I have been saying to others.
I had my first mammogram in two years, two weeks ago. That was only the start. I had been feeling really bad. I was tired, with headaches, back aches, to mention only a few of the symptoms. I finally decided to have a complete physical. Now while that may sound pretty simple, it wasn’t. Though I work in a health care facility my insurance wasn’t accepted. So I had to look for a health care provider. I asked a lot of people to recommend someone, but no one had a suggestion. I finally was able to find a provider of color which was an extra bonus.
After many tests and discussions, one of the biggest health issues I face is the diagnosis of the obesity, and weight loss is crucial. I needed a revolution in the way that I take care of myself!
According to the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) "The more overweight you are, the more likely you are to have health problems. Weight loss can help improve the harmful effects of being overweight. However, many overweight people have difficulty reaching their healthy body weight. Studies show that you can improve your he