April is National Minority Health Month. Continuum Health Group celebrates this observance by highlighting the need to improve the health of racial and ethnic minority and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities reduce health disparities. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) announced this year’s theme as “Better Health Through Better Understanding.”
Cross-cultural understanding and communication is critical to provide high quality health care and services to marginalized communities. This involves understanding and addressing historic and ongoing injustices. Promoting health literacy is one strategy to increase health equity. Healthy People 2030 defines personal health literacy as the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. However, it is important to recognize the need for “organizational health literacy”, or the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others. Health literacy empowers people to understand, participate, and make informed decisions about their health care.
According to OMH, only about 14 percent of the U.S. population has proficient health literacy. Implications of poor health literacy are adverse health outcomes, such as increased incidence of chronic illness and higher risk of hospitalization. Poor health literacy is linked to increased health care costs, treatment adherence complications, and medical errors. It’s proven that when patients are provided with culturally and linguistically appropriate information, they are empowered to create healthier outcomes for themselves and their communities. With nearly 20 percent of the United States population speaking a language other than English, it is critical to invest in health care services that can reach marginalized communities effectively. In 2021, OMH awarded $250 million to local governments to promote evidence-based health literacy strategies that are culturally appropriate. Continuum helps our clients develop and advocate for legislation that improves community health, health care supply chains, and health outcomes and ensures equity across all sectors of the industry.
Below are some activities and events to celebrate Minority Health and increase health literacy:
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is hosting the NIH Minority Health Walk, Run, Roll 5K, on April 18.
- Health Literacy in Healthy People 2030.
- HHS National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy.
- OMH’s Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS).
- The Food and Drug Administration’s Health Equity Forum Podcast.