The month of April is designated as National Minority Health Month. This year’s theme is “Bridging Health Equity Across Communities.” At VA, the Center for Minority Veterans (CMV) and Office of Health Equity (OHE) are raising awareness of the various factors that impact on the ability of minority Veterans and their families to reach the highest level of health and wellbeing. VA makes continued commitment in partnering with other federal agencies to advance equity in its policies via participation with the Federal Interagency Health Equity Team.
National Negro Health Week laid the foundation for National Minority Health Month 100 years ago. Dr. Booker T. Washington took the lead with African American newspapers by proposing a national week due to his belief that health was the key to progress and equity in all other things. He called on local health departments, schools, churches, businesses and professional associations to unite in one great national movement. His initial efforts have grown to a national observance of month long initiatives and activities that advance health equity across the country on behalf of racial and ethnic minorities.
VA strives to ensure that all Veterans receive timely, high quality, personalized, safe, effective, and equitable health care irrespective of geography, gender, race, age, culture or sexual orientation. In 2012, VA established the Office of Health Equity following recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans that VA should establish a national level office to oversee the effort to address the disparities among Veterans. OHE is charged with developing an understanding of where health and health care inequities exist for Veterans, identifying factors that contribute to inequity in Veteran populations and working across VA to eliminate inequities.
The Office of Health Equity has achieved major milestones in advancing health equity initiatives and research. Some examples include the first- ever National Veteran Health Equity Report released in 2016; the on-going Focus on Health Equity and Action webinar series; and Virtual Patient projects featuring Veteran stories on topics like the determinants of health and journeys with high blood pressure.
Through the collaborative efforts of the OHE, CMV and Center for Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships, several activities will occur during the month of April.
Click in this for more information and register to join us for the webinar session on April 30 dedicated to Veterans in observance of 2017 National Minority Health Month.
About the authors: Barbara Ward is the director of VA’s Center for Minority Veterans. Dr. Uchenna Uchendu is the chief officer of VA’s Office of Health Equity.