FROM THE ARCHIVE

Center to study health disparities

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NOVEMBER 1, 2000

Worried about the future of the nation's technological work force, the House on Tuesday passed a bill to establish a national center to study health disparities among minority populations.

The House passed the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000 by a voice vote. It passed the Senate last week and it will be sent on to President Clinton.

The new center would be part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH already includes an Office of Research on Minority Health (ORMH) part of whose goal is to stimulate research to improve the health condition of minorities, including African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Asian-Americans.

But the new bill elevates the ORMH to a full-fledged center, called the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. The center would coordinate minority research and as well as identify areas where NIH studies into minority health problems are insufficient.

Testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Public Health in July indicated the need for the center. And as noted by the chairman Senator Bill Frist (R-Tenn), minorities suffer from higher rates of death from cancer, stroke, and heart disease, as well as from higher rates of HIV/AIDS and diabetes.

Native Hawaiian men are 13 percent more likely to contract lung cancer, said Frist. Alaskan Native women are 72 percent more likely to contract colon cancer and rectal cancer, he added. The National Cancer Institute also reports that Hawaiian women have the second highest breast cancer incidence rate.

Additionally, diabetes among Native Americans, especially the young, is increasing. The Centers for Disease Control in August reported that American Indian youth from the ages of 15 to 19 have the highest rate of Type 2 diabetes in the nation.

Should these trends continue, Congress fears the scientific, technological, and engineering workforce might decrease in the next 50 years.

Get the Bill:
A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to improve the health of minority individuals (S.1880)

Get Senate Testimony:
Subcommittee on Public Health Hearing on Health Disparities: Bridging the Gap (Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. July 2000)

Related Stories:
More breast cancer screening urged (The Medicine Wheel 10/13)
Breast Cancer Awareness Month (The Medicine Wheel 10/13)
Doctor foresees benefits for Indians (The Medicine Wheel 09/19)
Tribes wanted for health program (The Medicine Wheel 09/18)
Diabetes in children increases (The Medicine Wheel 08/25)

Relevant Links:
The Office of Research on Minority Health - www1.od.nih.gov/ORMH/main.html
Diabetes Info, National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse - /www.niddk.nih.gov/health/diabetes/pubs/
amindian/amindian.htm