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April is National Minority Health Month

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health marks National Minority Health Month in April by raising awareness about the health disparities that continue to affect racial and ethnic minorities.

This year's theme, Prevention is Power: Taking Action for Health Equity emphasizes the critical role of prevention in reducing health disparities. It is a call to action, a charge for all to unite towards a common goal of improving the health of our communities. Many medical conditions go hand-in-hand with the status of a person's oral health.

Despite some recent progress in addressing health disparities, great challenges remain. Minorities are far more likely than non-Hispanic whites to suffer from chronic conditions, many of which are preventable, according to the Office of Minority Health. This is a particularly troubling statistic, because chronic diseases account for seven of the ten leading causes of death in our nation.

For example, African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are more than three times as likely to receive the same diagnosis. And Latinos are twice as likely to die from liver cancer.

While these persistent disparities are deeply troubling, there are some hopeful trends. The gap in life expectancy between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites has been closing and is now the smallest it's been since these statistics have been tracked.Additionally, seasonal flu vaccination coverage has tripled for children over the past four years and has contributed to a reduction in vaccination disparities among minority children.

According to the American Dental Association, people with diabetes are at greater risk of developing some oral health problems, including gum disease, fungal infections, and other infections and delayed healing. For more information on diabetes and your oral health, visit MouthHealthy.org and click on A-Z topics and choose Diabetes. To learn more about National Minority Health Month and what HHS is doing to achieve health equity, please visit www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

4/16/14

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