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National Minority Health Month brings awareness to health disparities



Roanoke, Virginia – April is National Minority Health Month, a time to raise awareness of the health disparities that exist between ethnic and minority groups and to motivate action via early detection, education, and disease control.

“In terms of symptomology there’s not necessarily a difference, but I think a level of awareness and accessibility that exists around preventive services,” said United Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joydip Roy.

According to Dr. Roy, economic and social factors including our jobs, education, access to fresh fruit, and the areas in which we reside influence around 80% of healthcare outcomes. However, minority groups experience these Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) more keenly than other groups, which leads to ongoing health inequities.

“African American communities have the highest mortality rate of any racial or ethnic group as it relates to cancer. That may be linked to accessibility issues, getting a diagnosis, getting screened, are we getting later staged cancer diagnoses in these groups. Hispanic women have higher rates of cervical cancer and cervical cancer deaths than non-white Hispanic women,” said Dr. Roy.

These patterns also apply to mental health, prenatal care, and other illnesses that are more common in particular racial or ethnic groups:

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, 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.

However, while talking to medical professionals, there are also increasing worries. According to a survey conducted by the health policy research group KFF, 55% of Black participants felt that to receive equitable treatment during medical visits, they needed to take extra care with how they looked. That rate is comparable to that of Alaska Native patients and Hispanic patients.

“There have been some pretty famous examples of where symptoms are minimized by healthcare providers or not given the degree of concern as potentially other non-minorities would be potentially be provided with. There’s a degree of cultural competency and awareness that needs to be there on the provider’s side,” said Dr. Roy.

According to Dr. Roy, patients must speak up for themselves, maintain their health knowledge, and recognize their symptoms. He advises bringing a friend or family member along to appointments, making a list of any queries you have for the healthcare practitioner, and raising your hand if you don’t understand what the doctor is saying.

“In this country we’re on track to become the majority-minority country. But the differing minority groups as a whole have greater opportunities to improve health,” said Dr. Roy.

To learn more about preventative healthcare and access resources visit



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