Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New National Plan to Address Health Disparities

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has unveiled a comprehensive plan to address health disparities among racial, ethnic and other underserved populations. 

The plan was available in draft form when the Utah Department of Health, Office of Health Disparities Reduction (OHD) applied for its most recent federal grant. Utah OHD based its current federally funded activities on the strategies outlined in the federal plan. These strategies include awareness, leadership, health and health system experience, cultural and linguistic competency, and research/evaluation.  

Awareness
OHD is increasing awareness of the significance of health disparities, their impact on the state of Utah, and the actions necessary to improve health outcomes for racial and ethnic minority populations by disseminating data and best practices information through unpaid media, Internet and in-person communication methods.
Leadership
OHD has strengthened and broadened leadership for addressing health disparities by convening diverse Advisory Boards to oversee implementation of the plan.  OHD is also funding community-based organizations and mobilizing existing networks to address health disparities. 
Health and Health System Experience
OHD and its partners will address health and health system experience by conducting evidence-based interventions to improve health outcomes for minority members including in-person outreach and system-wide changes to reduce barriers to accessing health care and public health services. 
Cultural and Linguistic Competency
OHD will work with healthcare and public health service providers to improve cultural and linguistic competency, building upon and improving existing successful interventions, such as the online Multilingual Library and assessment/training projects at health clinics.
Research and Evaluation
OHD research includes a recently completed quantitative and qualitative assessment of barriers to accessing healthcare and adopting healthy lifestyles among Utah racial/ethnic minorities that the Advisory Boards, networks and contractors can use to guide intervention decisions.  OHD is also completing a landmark study addressing health issues in the Utah Pacific Islander population. Program evaluation will be used to determine the success of these interventions.

The HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities outlines goals and actions HHS will take to reduce health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities. HHS also released the National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity, a common set of goals and objectives for public and private sector initiatives and partnerships to help racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved groups reach their full health potential. The strategy, a product of the National Partnership for Action (NPA), incorporates ideas, suggestions and comments from thousands of individuals and organizations across the country. The NPA was coordinated by the HHS Office of Minority Health.

National Plan Links

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