New York Department of Health Recognizes National Minority Health Month

This Year's Theme is "Better Health Through Better Understanding"

Workshops for Department of Health Staff Support Ongoing Commitment to Addressing Racial and Health Inequities

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 6, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health, in observance of National Minority Health Month in April, is highlighting the importance of improving the health and well-being of racial and ethnic minority and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities, with a focus on reducing health disparities.

These disparities, often caused by systemic barriers, implicit bias, and the resulting unequal access to services, create poorer health outcomes for certain groups and are apparent in many preventable conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and maternal mortality. These conditions can add to the economic challenges that further perpetuate inequity in health and health care access.

"Access to quality health care is very important for every New Yorker, yet many still face barriers to receiving the care they need and deserve," Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "Eliminating these barriers and providing preventive care and critical resources are essential to improving health outcomes for all New Yorkers, and specifically those in underserved communities."

Social determinants of health play a substantial role in why many people have poor health outcomes. Social determinants of health are factors and conditions, such as availability of healthful foods, housing, economic opportunity, social relationships, transportation, education, and health care, whose distribution across populations effectively determines the length and quality of life. Health inequities identified within these determinants call for the need to first address racial and systemic racism experienced by minority populations and communities of color.

As part of the Department's commitment to expand access to health care for all New Yorkers, reduce health disparities, and address inequities, the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention (OMH-HDP) within the Office of Health Equity and Human Rights is hosting a series of internal workshops throughout April for Department staff that reflect the "Better Health Through Better Understanding" theme of the month-long celebration.

The workshops will address areas in which OMH-HDP focuses its efforts: implicit bias, health literacy, and historical and current challenges creating health inequities in accessing care. The sessions planned for this month include:

  1. Effective Communication Among Linguistically Diverse New Yorkers. This presentation will highlight resources to reduce language barriers faced by New Yorkers who are Limited English Proficiency (LEP), or who are part of our Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.
  2. Implicit Bias and Its Impact on Communication in Healthcare. This session will focus on the need to better understand how implicit bias can impede best efforts to communicate effectively to achieve better health outcomes.
  3. Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will provide a presentation highlighting projects that demonstrate the effectiveness of working with local community-based organizations to develop health literacy plans to increase the availability, acceptability, and use of COVID-19 public health information and services by racial and ethnic minority populations.
  4. Racism in Healthcare. The panel will provide an overview of racism in health care along with how our communities continue to experience systemic and organizational racism, and how we can be aware and mindful of how this impacts the work we do.

Associate Commissioner and Director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention Wilma Alvarado-Little said: "The Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities highlights efforts that support the importance of improving the health of racial and ethnic minority and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities and reducing health disparities. We welcome all to join us in celebrating!"

To ensure that all New Yorkers, including those with limited ability to read, speak, write, or understand English, have access to programs, services and activities, the Department also provides interpretation services in any language and translation services in the most common non-English languages spoken by Limited English Proficient New Yorkers.

For additional information about health disparities and cultural and linguistic competence, visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of the OMH-HDP website here.