April: Minority Health Month

April in National Minority Health Month, a time to bring awareness to the health disparities that negatively impact minority populations. The Office of Minority Health’s theme for this year is “Health Equity Can’t Wait. Act Now in Your CommUNITY!”, a call to action and unity for the regions, the state and local offices of minority health, the health departments and all other organizations and partners involved and invested in reducing health disparities.

The inaugural Leadership Academy class
Students from Edward Waters College participate in a PPE training

Locally, the Coalition has focused its efforts on community-building activities, particularly around preconception health and infant mortality.

  • The Make a Noise! Make a Difference! intervention has trained over 100 lay health advocates in Jacksonville’s urban core, where there’s a historically high rate of poor birth outcomes, and several tipping point neighborhoods (Arlington, the Westside).
  • The Make a Difference! Leadership Academy welcomed its second class in January.  The goal of the 12-week Academy is to support the efforts of local residents to make changes in neighborhood factors that contribute to disparities in health and birth outcomes.
  • In partnership with the Office of Minority Health, the Coalition held a Preconception Peer Educator workshop in September 2011. More than 70 students representing four local colleges and universities participated. An additional workshop at Edward Waters College trained about a dozen more students.

Racial disparities in birth outcomes are striking in Northeast Florida — the black infant mortality rate is still nearly twice the white infant mortality rate, despite improvements over the past few years.