Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Conference goal: Close health gaps


Disparities for minorities is focus

By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

More than 40 of the region's top health-care providers, community organizations and business leaders will explore ways to eliminate health disparities among African-Americans, Appalachians and Hispanics.

The Conference on Closing the Gap will be held Nov. 13-14 at Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington.

It was announced Tuesday by officials of University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and other organizations gathered at University Hospital. The goal is to mobilize Cincinnati-area businesses, churches, community groups and health-care providers to devise programs and strategies to reduce health disparities.

Ken Hanover, president of the Health Alliance, said closing the gap would require significant investment of time and resources by everyone from the mayor to local clergy.

"The church can be particularly important in helping us (identify) parishioners who might be in poor health," Hanover said. "Many times people will tell their pastor things they won't tell their doctor."

Statistics show that whites live an average of 5.7 years longer than blacks. African-Americans and Hispanics account for 70 percent of the AIDS cases reported in Greater Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, 12 percent of Appalachians and 9 percent of African-Americans suffer from diabetes compared to 7 percent of other whites. African-American men also suffer from prostate cancer in disproportionate numbers.

"Certain cultures feel different ways about seeing a doctor," Hanover said. "We have to recognize those differences if we are going to close the gap. We can't afford to have a health-care system that is just plain vanilla anymore."

For information: 513-585-9872 (www.health-alliance.com/closingthegap) .

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E-mail kaldridge@enquirer.com




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