April Is Minority Health Month

April 27, 2021

Advocacy Groups | <b>Fight Colorectal Cancer</b>

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is an example of a disease lacking health equity in the United States. CRC cases and deaths are 20% and 40% higher, respectively, in Black compared to White individuals.

Dr. May is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and a staff physician in Gastroenterology in the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Affairs (VA) Healthcare System.

Dr. May also serves on the Fight CRC Medical Advisory Board and Health Equity Committee.

I’ve heard about “health equity” but I’m not sure what it means. What is health equity, and how can I get involved and/or help as a patient or caregiver?

HEALTH EQUITY MEANS THAT ALL PEOPLE, REGARDLESS OF BACKGROUND, HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO ACHIEVE THE HIGHEST HEALTH POSSIBLE.

Let’s assume there is a diverse group of individuals with the same health goal. In a health equality-based approach, all individuals in the group are provided the same resources to achieve the health target. In an equity- based approach, however, we acknowledge that certain individuals in the group—those who were more disadvantaged at the start— will need additional support or provisions to reach the health target. By providing additional resources to those with increased need, everyone in the group can reach the desired target.

When there is lack of health equity, we have health disparities—preventable differences in disease occurrence (how often people get the disease), health outcomes (how well those with a disease do), or treatment in one community relative to another. These differences are common among racial and ethnic minorities, and they also occur by gender, socioeconomic status, geography, sexual orientation and mental and physical ability.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is an example of a disease lacking health equity in the United States. CRC cases and deaths are 20% and 40% higher, respectively, in Black compared to White individuals. In addition, Black Americans, Latinx, Asian Americans and American Indians/Native Americans are less likely than White Americans to receive CRC screening, which we are all aware can be lifesaving.

Action Includes:

  • Sensitivity to people and patients of different backgrounds and cultures.
  • Voicing concern when disparities are observed.
  • Supporting public health programs and interventions that address disparities.

Through such efforts, we can eliminate health disparities and achieve health equity for all. It’s going to take all of us!

Read more in the latest issue of Beyond Blue!

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