U.S. History on Improving Health Status of Minorities
In 1985, the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services empanelled a Task Force on Minority Health to review the available data and assess the health status of minority Americans. The task force identified six causes of death as collectively accounting for more than 80 percent of the excess death and mortality for African-Americans and other minority groups:
- Heart disease and stroke
- Chemical dependency
- Intentional and unintentional injuries and infant mortality
The task force also discerned that minorities experience significantly poorer health outcomes when compared to their white counterparts. While the health status for Americans overall is improving, the health status for minorities is declining. Because of these disparities, the U.S. Secretary created the federal Office of Minority Health to continually monitor minority health issues and to recommend ways to improve the health status and outcomes for minorities.
The Commissioner’s Advisory Council on Health Disparity and Health Equity Background
In 1990, Virginia’s State Health Commissioner created the Minority Health Advisory Committee (MHAC) to ensure that the health priorities and health concerns of Virginia’s minority populations were adequately addressed by the Virginia Department of Health. The MHAC included appointed representatives from local, state and federal public health agencies, University of Virginia’s Center for Public Service, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Pharmaceuticals, Norfolk State University’s Department of Political Science and Economics, Baptist General Convention of Virginia, Vietnamese Resettlement Association, Powhatan Society, Hispanic Committee of Virginia, private health care providers and consumers.
On October 9, 2013, the group’s name was changed to the Advisory Council on Health Disparity and Health Equity (ACHDHE) in order to reflect its great mission as well as the expanded scope and vision of the group that are consistent with integrating all segments of the population including those in rural areas. ACHDHE membership is intended to be representative of Virginia’s minority and underserved populations. The ACHDHE works with the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity in achieving its objectives.
To promote and advocate for the elimination of health disparities among all racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved populations in Virginia.
The ACHDHE has the following duties and responsibilities to serve racial and ethnic minority communities:
- Advise and make recommendations to the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Health
- Identify limitations associated with existing laws, regulations, programs, and services
- Identify and review health promotion and disease prevention strategies
- Support policies and legislation to improve accessibility and delivery of health services
ACHDHE Current Projects:
- Mobilizing Action through Planning and Partnership (MAPP): Members have been tasked with introducing themselves to the Local Health Department in their area and participating on the MAPP Committee as a community member.
- Health Equity Webinar planning partner.
- Community engagement using “Unnatural Causes: Is inequality making us sick?” as a discussion tool.
- Legislative and policy research.
For more information, please contact the Office of Health Equity, (804) 864-7435.