12/11/06 — Health Department to address health disparities among races

View Archive

Health Department to address health disparities among races

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 11, 2006 1:45 PM

There is a big difference between the level of health care available to minorities and whites, health officials say, and the Wayne County Health Department has grant funding available for agencies willing to help solve the problem.

The Health Department recently received a $20,000 grant from the N.C. Office of Minority Health to address health disparities among minority communities in the state. Up to $5,000 is being offered to local organizations that suggest viable proposals.

Practically every measure of health shows that disparities exist between minorities and whites, said James Roosen, health director. Just one example is in the area of infant mortality.

"In 2005, 15 minority babies died in Wayne County as compared to seven white babies," he said. "But minorities only account for 35 percent of our births. And it's like that for any indicators you want to mention."

According to the Health Department, 80 percent of new HIV infections are among blacks, with black males being five times more likely to die from homicide and the race as a whole being affected by diabetes at a much higher rate.

Letters are being sent out to agencies and organizations in the county to solicit applications for the grant money. Eligible are non-profit, community based agencies that provide human services in Wayne County. Minority and faith-based organizations are also encouraged to apply.

The grant is directed toward decreasing health disparities in the areas of infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, chronic disease (cancer, health disease and diabetes) and homicide.

"We would also be very interested in looking at peer counseling programs, any type of program that involves education of minority leaders and minority groups," Roosen added.

"There's a lot going on in Wayne County. We have got a lot of talent and great ideas. We'd like to help fund some of those ideas so we can help them come to fruition."

To find out more about the grant and its criteria, visit the Health Department Web site at www.waynegov.com/departments/health/GrantOpportunity.asp. The deadline for applications is Dec. 20.