State Health Department Hosts
1st Minority Health Conference
Conference tackles eliminating health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities in Illinois
CHICAGO – The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Center for Minority Health Services today hosted its first-ever Minority Health Conference to address health disparities facing many racial and ethnic communities of color in Illinois, and to strategize on solutions. More than 200 public health professionals and advocates statewide registered for the two-day conference, held in conjunction with the Illinois Public Health Association in Naperville.
The IDPH conference intersects with National Minority Health Month, which is observed every April. The Minority Health Conference theme of “Eliminating Health Disparities through Community Transformation” is aligned with the national strategy established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of reducing racial and ethnic health disparities.
“The Minority Health Conference is a perfect opportunity for public health professionals, stakeholders, and community advocates to discuss the health disparities currently experienced by communities of color, while working together to formulate solutions to effectively eliminate those disparities,” said IDPH Acting Director Dr. Arthur Kohrman.
Kenneth Munson, Region V Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provided the opening day keynote speech on the impact of the Affordable Care Act among communities of color. Concurrent workshops on both days will be led by industry professionals on topics ranging from emergency preparedness for communities of color to effective utilization of social media for public health.
A special presentation will also be held today on the “We Choose Health” Community Transformation Grant awarded to IDPH by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last September. Illinois was one of only 35 grantees nationwide to receive funds to implement proven methods to improve health and wellness. The statewide “We Choose Health” initiative focuses on reducing health disparities and reducing chronic diseases.
Gaps in health outcomes between communities of color and white communities in Illinois continue to exist in almost every major category. Non-whites have a lower life expectancy than whites in Illinois, according to census data. Also, the lack of access to health care as well as the incidence of certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS and certain cancers, remains disproportionately high in some minority communities in Illinois.
For more information about the IDPH Center for Minority Health Services, visit http://www.idph.state.il.us/about/minority_hlth/default.htm. Follow the conference on Twitter using the hash tag #MHC2012.