The Black Track: April 7, 2023

National Minority Health Month

Advocate for equitable healthcare all year long!

April is the National Minority Health Month. The Black/African American community know this is not the only time to bring focus on our experiences, and disparities within the healthcare system. However, this is a great time to bring awareness to our community. In this article the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs will acknowledge the first “National Negro Health week” while bringing an awareness to National Minority Health Month. In conclusion, we will highlight a Black organization in New Mexico already doing the work.

In April 2001, the National Minority Health Month (NMHM) was established. NMHM is an inclusive initiative that addresses the health needs of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, and other minorities. Its goal is to strengthen the capacity of local communities to eliminate the disproportionate burden of premature death and preventable illness in minority populations through prevention, early detection, and control of disease complications. (1) However, it did not start there.

Before it became a nationally recognized month, it was introduced by Booker T. Washington as “National Negro Health week” from 1915 to 1951. (3) At the 1914 Tuskegee Negro Conference Booker T. Washington introduced data that showed economic cost of the poor health status of the Black population in the United States. (3)) National Negro Health week was born from that data. The focus of National Negro Health week was to improve the health status of the black population by educating members of the community, providing greater access to healthcare, and encouraging an increased number of black professionals in the field of public health.

The health disparities in the African American community are mostly rooted in social, racial, ethnic, economic status and environmental conditions. (2) What Booker T. Washington concluded in 1915 is no different than want is being experienced in 2023. The health disparities in the African American community are rooted in the same issues, and just like in 1915, the community responded to help advance the community as a whole. We continue to inform each other and advocate for equity. We continue to create high quality programs and organizations to meet community needs.

There are several local organizations doing the work. Black Health New Mexico is a resource for African-Americans and Black people in New Mexico, dedicated to providing greater access to information from the New Mexico Department of Health, local organizations, local nonprofits, and local & national health professionals to improve Black health. (4)

Black Health New Mexico is an organization that addresses the high health disparity rates through innovative and collaborative community driven programming and solutions. (4) This organization is not the only organization with their boots on the ground for healthcare improvements in the Black community. In conclusion, get to know doctors and medical researchers, participate in listening sessions, non-profits and companies already providing resources and/or services to improve the healthcare disparities in the Black community. Be proactive. Promoting health in minority communities is a year around task and expands/extends beyond the month April. Thank you, to all those in the community who are doing great work.