Archive | February, 2012

SAAPHI Black History Month Spotlight: Healthy Start, Inc.

7 Feb

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2007 national Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) was 6.75 infant deaths per 1,000 live births compared to a 13.31 IMR for non-Hispanic black women. Further comparison with the Central Intelligence Agency ranking order shows the United States hasĀ  the 48th best IMR in the world. When analyzing the African American community’s IMR with other nations, they place slightly better than The Bahamas at #127 in the world.

This disparity in IMR between the African American community and other races in the United States is an issue that deserves immediate and persistent action. Healthy Start, Inc. of Pittsburgh, PA is one of the fifteen original federally funded programs designed to identify a broad range of community-driven strategies and interventions aimed at reducing IMR and the number of low birth weight babies in communities battling significantly high IMR. Since 1991, Healthy Start, Inc. has worked diligently to reduce IMR in one of America’s highest IMR and low income African American communities. Their budget has not increased since 1997 even with increased participation in Allegheny County, and in 2007 when the CDC reported 13.31 IMR for non-Hispanic black women, Healthy Start, Inc. reported zero child deaths among its participants countywide.

IMR is once again rising within this community though, and studies have shown that poverty, education, access to prenatal care, and even low birth weight do not completely explain the racial gap in infant mortality. Research is now focusing on stress as a factor. The value of programs like Healthy Start, Inc. are immeasurable, and plenty of similar programs exist in nearby communities. This program offers case management and outreach programs, nutrition counseling services, and develops partnerships to ensure continued funding for critical services. However, they cannot do it alone.

We must do our part in this quest to develop healthy living babies. For our African American women, please take care of yourselves. For our African American men, please take care of (y)our women.



SAAPHI Black History Month Spotlight: Dr. Otis Brawley

1 Feb

Throughout the year I will be highlighting African American leaders who have made or are making their mark with exceptional work in health and the elimination of health disparities. It only felt right to use today, the first of February, to kick off this mission and help jump start Black History Month 2012.

Dr. Otis Brawley is the Chief Medical Officer and executive vice president of the American Cancer Society, the nation’s largest voluntary health organization. In addition to promoting cancer prevention, early detection, and quality treatment, one of Dr. Brawley’s key focuses is eliminating disparities in access to quality cancer care.

In his new book, How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About BeingĀ  Sick in America, Dr. Brawley examines how disparities in cancer treatment are impacted by both the over treatment of financially competent patients and the inadequate treatment of poor and uninsured individuals from underserved communities.

As a key leader in cancer research, Dr. Brawley is not afraid of speaking out about the dangers of over testing patients. He emphasizes that too many patients get a “wallet biopsy” that determines what kind of care they receive. He also uses stories of personal experience in medicine to admonish patients about the dangers of seeking unproven treatments.

This book is relevant to medicine and it is certainly relevant to public health. Given the current climate of our health industry and consistent increase in health care costs, How We Do Harm sheds insight on how we can limit over-utilization of costly procedures and increase focus to eliminating disparities in cancer treatment.

For more on Dr. Otis Brawley and his work: