Wednesday, 17 July 2024

April is National Minority Health Month: Recognizing health disparities in racial and ethnic minority groups

Dr. Archana Dubey. Courtesy photo.

April is recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as Minority Health Month, an observance that brings awareness to health disparities and encourages action through education, early detection, and disease control.

Part of this work includes raising awareness about the disproportionate health outcomes among people who belong to racial or ethnic minority groups.

The conditions in which we are born, live, learn, work, play, and worship and our age — known as social determinants of health, or SDOH — have important impacts on health.

Differences in SDOH contribute to the stark and persistent chronic disease disparities in the U.S. among racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, systematically limiting opportunities for members of some groups to be healthy.


Black/African Americans have the highest mortality rate of any racial or ethnic group for all cancers combined and for most major cancers.

From 2015-2019, African American men were 1.2 times and 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with new cases of colon and prostate cancer than non-Hispanic white men.

Although Hispanic men and women generally have lower cancer rates than the non-Hispanic white population, disparities do exist in certain types of cancer. Both Hispanic men and women are almost twice as likely to have and die from liver cancer than non-Hispanic Whites.

Hispanic women are 40% more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 30 percent more likely to die from cervical cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic white women.

Mental health

Black females, grades 9-12, were 60% more likely to attempt suicide in 2019, as compared to non-Hispanic white females of the same age.

Suicide attempts for Hispanic girls, grades 9-12, were 30% higher than for non-Hispanic white girls in the same age group, in 2019.

In 2018, Hispanics were 50% less likely to have received mental health treatment as compared to non-Hispanic whites.

Prenatal care

Although overall infant mortality rates have fallen over time, the 2018 infant mortality rate for infants of non-Hispanic Black women was more than twice as high as that for infants of non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic Asian and Hispanic women.

In 2019, Hispanic mothers were 80% more likely to receive late or no prenatal care as compared to non-Hispanic white mothers.

This awareness month brings light to differences in the health outcomes of various racial and ethnic minority groups.

This awareness can also inform individuals about how groups who have poor social determinants of health and lack of access to high-quality medical care are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from diseases.

Dr. Archana Dubey is chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare of California.

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