HHS Announces Initiative to Reduce Health Disparities
Office of the Director - April 13, 2011
On Friday, April 8, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released two strategic plans that will guide efforts to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities in the United States.
The HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities outlines measures to be undertaken by the HHS to address health disparities in racial, ethnic, and other underserved communities, while the National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity sets forth common goals for public- and private-sector initiatives to reduce disparities in health care.
The NHLBI has supported research and education on health disparities for four decades. Many health problems within the NHLBI research mission have a disproportionate impact on socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and ethnic minorities. The disorders and conditions include cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and hypertension; diabetes and obesity, which increase the risk of developing cardiovascular and other diseases; asthma and other chronic lung diseases; and disorders of hemoglobin such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia. NHLBI research programs address diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of these disorders, including development of individualized therapeutic approaches.
Chapter 12 of the 2010 NHLBI Fact Book provides an overview of the Institute's activities to address health disparities. Highlights are:
- The Institute conducts population-level research to understand and address the health needs of minority communities. Major studies have been undertaken among American Indians (the Strong Heart Study), African Americans (the Jackson Heart Study and the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study), and Latinos (the Hispanic Community Health Study). The Institute has been home to research on hemoglobin disorders even before the Sickle Cell Disease Act became law in 1972. Nationwide application of the results of NHLBI-supported research has yielded remarkable improvements in life expectancy for people with sickle cell disease and thalassemia.
- The NHLBI Division for the Application of Research Discoveries (DARD) translates research findings into community-based approaches to improve health and reduce health disparities. Emphasis is placed on developing effective and culturally sensitive health education strategies tailored to the needs of various racial and ethnic groups.
- DARD's Community Health Worker Health Disparities Initiative disseminates health information, provides training on the use of NHLBI curricula and resources, and mobilizes community health networks and organizations at local, state, regional, and national levels to implement programs.
- The NHLBI Office of Research Training and Minority Health provides a focus for the Institute’s longstanding commitment to ensure participation of underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities in research and training programs.
- The NHLBI Global Health Initiative addresses the prevention and control of chronic noncommunicable diseases worldwide and particularly in low- and middle-income countries, where their burden is disproportionate and ever-growing.
To learn more, please visit: