Disparities in health often mean earlier death and increased morbidity for one group of people versus another.Groups can be defined by race, ethnicity, age, sex, disability status, geography (urban vs. rural), or socioeconomic status. In the case of health disparities defined by race and ethnicity, non-Hispanic Whites tend to experience better health than African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics and specific segments of the Asian population. Differences can also be found within groups and by health indicator. For example, the rate of low birth weight infants for the Hispanic population as a whole is lower than that of non-Hispanic Whites, while the same rate for Puerto Ricans, a subgroup of the total Hispanic population, is 50% higher.
Regardless of the health indicator being examined - whether it is heart disease and stroke, diabetes, low birth weight, HIV/AIDS, or obesity - disparities in health usually point to inequalities in income and education. So, it is no wonder that marginalized groups in the U.S. carry a higher burden of disease and disability.
Even our individual health behaviors - for example, whether we exercise regularly or eat healthily - are influenced by such underlying factors as income and education, which in turn predict our access to quality goods and services. To illustrate, low-income neighborhoods are less likely to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, sidewalks, walking trails and bike lanes. And even in those low-income areas where such resources are available, residents might not take advantage of them due to neighborhood crime and the relatively high price of fresh foods.
Various groups are working to eliminate the problem - the American Medical Association, in an effort to ensure quality health care for all, is encouraging physicians to examine their own practices; the American Public Health Association is pushing for comprehensive federal legislation to address the underlying causes of disparities in health status and health care access; and Healthy People 2020, the latest set of 10-year national health objectives put forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will integrate "social determinants of health" - a term which describes those socioeconomic factors that increase or decrease our risk for disease - across all objectives.
The North Carolina Council of Churches, a statewide ecumenical organization that promotes social justice and Christian unity, regards the issue of health disparities as a moral one. The Bible instructs us to "learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow" (Isaiah 1:17, NSRV). When certain groups are treated unfairly, it insults our Maker. It honors God when we plead their cause (Proverbs 14:31).
To learn more about the elimination of health disparities, please visit the NC Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities' website.
Partners in Health and Wholeness, an initiative of the North Carolina Council of Churches, will hold its first clergy breakfast on health on Thursday, August 26 from 8:30-10:00 a.m. at St. James African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Zion Church in Goldsboro. The church is located at 206 South George Street, and Dr. Dwight Cannon serves as pastor.
The purpose of the PHW clergy breakfast is to: draw the connection between health and faith, illustrate the current scope of preventable health problems in North Carolina, and discuss opportunities for clergy to improve their health as well as the health of their congregants through PHW and other faith-based health initiatives.
The Rev. Joseph C. Brown, Sr., Presiding Elder, A.M.E. Zion, Dunn-Lillington District, will be the guest speaker. Faith leaders serving in the Wayne County area or anyone interested in how places of worship can improve the spiritual and physical health of God's people, should contact Willona Stallings, PHW Project Director, at 919-828-6501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHW has now added health advocacy to our program mission. In order to ensure that the moral voice of North Carolina's faith community is heard by our political leaders, PHW will: 1) keep judicatory heads, clergy and congregants informed about legislative issues affecting our health, and 2) provide people of faith with the tools to successfully advocate for policies that matter to us.
The renewed PHW mission is as follows: To reduce obesity and tobacco use in North Carolina by promoting health as a practice of our faith in the following ways:
The April issue of the PHW newsletter featured congregations from across the state that had achieved PHW Bronze Certification prior to the Faith and Health Summit in March. Knollwood Baptist Church in Winston-Salem was mistakenly omitted from that newsletter but did receive recognition at the Summit.
Since March, the following churches have successfully completed the bronze level of PHW certification:
Congratulations to all of our PHW Bronze Congregations for demonstrating that our bodies are God's temple and that, as people of faith, we strive to live an abundant life of health and wholeness!
To become a 2010 PHW Bronze Congregation and receive recognition from the North Carolina Council of Churches and/or your judicatory, please verify that you have taken the following three steps:
Upon the completion of these three activities, please click here to fill out our online form.
You may submit your verification at any time during 2010. Additional tiers of PHW Certification will be announced in January 2011.
A word of thanks. Thank you to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust for supporting the work of the Council to improve the health of God's people through your generous funding and programmatic guidance.
Combine the orange juice, lime juice, strawberries, and banana in a blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate until cold.
Recipe courtesy of the Food Network
When the hospital Board of Directors asked a panel of doctors to vote on adding a new wing to their hospital, the allergists voted to scratch it and the dermatologists advised no rash moves.
The gastroenterologists had a gut feeling about it, but the neurologists thought the administration had a lot of nerve, and the obstetricians stated they were all laboring under a misconception.
The ophthalmologists considered the idea short-sighted; the pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body," while the pediatricians said, "Grow up!"
The psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, the surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing, and the radiologists could see right through it.
The internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow; the plastic surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter".
The podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the urologists felt the scheme wouldn't hold water.
The anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas, and the cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.
Joke courtesy of MediJokes.com
The Council's latest resources - "Partners in Health and Wholeness Worship Aid: A Lectionary-Based Resource Illustrating the Spiritual Relevance of Healthy Living" and "Recipes for the Heart and Soul: A Guide to Cooking Healthily in Large Quantities" - are still available. To obtain copies, please email Willona Stallings at email@example.com. A nominal fee will be charged per copy to cover the cost of printing, shipping and handling. You can also download these materials for free online: