Program Plans for Better Health Care for African Americans


An Ounce of Prevention

Program plans to improve health care among area African Americans.

Two days after Barack Obama became the nation’s first black president -- widely cited as making Martin Luther King’s dream a reality -- a local initiative announced a plan to address continued disparities in health care for African Americans.

The Community Health Partnership’s In Our Hands initiative, a program led by pharmaceutical company Sanofi-aventis, hopes to improve patient care in the African-American community by linking patients to health care professionals and resources.

In Memphis, African Americans are 2 1/2 times more likely to die from diabetes than their white counterparts. They are also more than 1 1/2 times more likely to die from a stroke. Deep vein thrombosis and hypertension are also common within the African-American community.

Cevette Hall, a member of the Healthy Memphis Common Table, says that many African Americans will attempt to "self-treat" before going to a health-care professional.

"There is a large unmet need in the African-American community for better access to care and improved health outcomes," Hall says. "To address this, we engaged in dialogue with both national and local community organizations to build our understanding of the African-American community’s needs and to identify how the partnership can help bridge health disparities."

The partnership’s Community Health Resource Guide, a pocket-sized booklet, contains information about low-cost and free health insurance, prescription assistance, drug treatment programs, food and nutrition services, and contact information for local and state health departments.

"Although a range of health resources are often available to patients in major cities and urban environments, there often is not enough awareness about available programs, treatments, or access to proper care," says LaDorris Knowles, local liaison with the Community Health Partnership. "Consequently, these resources often go underutilized and the patients that need them most remain undeserved."

The guide will be available at local churches, libraries, community organizations and doctors’ offices.

The Community Health Partnership also plans to host several special events. Much of the focus will be on prevention and getting patients help while their health problems are in the early stages.

For more information about the Community Health Partnership, please call 866-61-HANDS (866-614-2637).

By Kimberly Kim

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