June 2014 National REACH Coalition Newsletter

"Advancing Racial and Ethnic Health Equity"
National Men's Health Month
June 2014

June is National Men’s Health Month, a public awareness campaign organized by Men’s Health Network (MHN). The MHN is a national non-profit organization committed to improving the health and wellness of men and their families with health prevention messages and tools, screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities, and patient navigation. According to the Men’s Health Month website, the program is celebrated across the United States each June with screenings, health fairs, and other health education outreach activities.

The purpose of National Men’s Health Month is to heighten awareness of preventable health complications and encourage early detection and treatment of diseases among men and boys.

The National REACH Coalition supports the education and availability of resources, particularly targeted to men of color, who may need to gain a better understanding of chronic diseases that can be prevented and or successfully treated with the appropriate knowledge and healthcare.  
View the MHN’s June 2014 Calendar of Events and find what upcoming events will take place in your local area in recognition of Men's Health Month. 



The Office on Women’s Health (OFW), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recently shared several statistics on certain health disparities found among minority men. Visit the OFW Website to find additional resources and information on ways to lower the risk of disease and seek the appropriate healthcare needed to remain healthy men of color.



African-American and Hispanic-American/Latino men are less likely than white men to see a doctor.
Minority men are less likely to get timely preventive care, such as flu shots and colonoscopies.
African-American men are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease compared to non-Hispanic white men.
American Indians and Alaska Natives have especially high rates of depressionsuicide, and substance abuse.

African-Americans who get skin cancer are more likely to die from it than whites.

Type 2 diabetes is more common among African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans/Latinos, and American Indians than among whites.

Asians and Pacific Islanders make up 4.5 percent of the U.S. population but have more than half of the chronic cases of hepatitis B.
NRC Mission:
To Increase the capacity of underserved racial and ethnic communities across the U.S. to achieve health equity.

About Us:
The National REACH Coalition (NRC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, located in Washington D.C., that is committed to the elimination of health disparities and the achievement of health equity among racial and ethnic minorities.

This NRC Newsletter Edition Features Stories On:
Health Equity in the News

The HELEN Project

NRC's CTG Communities 

NRC's REACH Communities 


Support the National REACH Coalition's work to promote, develop, and implement innovative techniques aimed at the elimination of health disparities within communities of color. Contribute to our efforts by making a generous donation to the National REACH Coalition's Annual Fund.



                             End the Silence

The Wear BLUE campaign was created by the Men’s Health Network (MHN) to increase awareness about men’s health issues.
There is an ongoing, increasing and predominantly silent crisis in the health and well-being of men. Due to a lack of awareness, poor health education, and culturally induced behavior patterns in their work and personal lives, men’s health and well-being are deteriorating steadily.
Wear BLUE event can help educate men, women, and their families of the need to raise awareness of this silent crisis with men’s health.
This June, use the information, tools, and resources on the Men’s Health Network (MHN) site to help you plan an impactful Wear BLUE event in your workplace or with your religious or community group. Wear BLUE provides a unique platform for awareness and education efforts as well as visual support.



          Economic Burden of Men’s Health Disparities in the United States

Very little is known about the economic consequences of men's health disparities. Using data from the 2006 through 2009 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the National Vital Statistics Reports, [John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health] estimated the potential cost savings of eliminating health disparities for racial/ethnic minority men. The total direct medical care expenditures for African American men were 447.6 billion of which 24.2 billion was excess medical care expenditures. With regard to indirect costs to the economy, African American and Hispanic men incurred 317.6 and 115.0 billion respectively. These findings indicate that we cannot afford to overlook the disparities that exist, particularly among African American and Hispanic men. Failure to do so is both socially and morally wrong and carries huge economic consequences.[1]

The study, published [January 2014] in the International Journal of Men’s Health, looks at the direct and indirect costs associated with health inequalities and projects the potential cost savings of eliminating these disparities for minority men in the U.S.
“Health disparities have a devastating impact on individuals and families, and they also affect society as a whole,” said Roland J. Thorpe, Jr., PhD, lead author of the study and Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director of the Program for Research on Men’s Health in the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions. “Quantifying the economic impact of health inequalities among men highlights how enormous a societal problem this is.”

[1] International Journal of Men’s Health, Economic Burden of Men’s Health Disparities in the United States.



Researchers used data from the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality’s 2006-2009 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) to determine the prevalence of a variety of health statuses and conditions (for example, fair/poor health, obesity, diabetes, heart disease) among each racial/ethnic group (African American, Asian, Hispanic and white). This information was incorporated in statistical models to estimate the total direct medical costs and the proportion of costs incurred due to health disparities for each group. The direct medical expenditures for African-American men over the four-year period totaled $447.6 billion; and 5.4 percent, or $24.2 billion, were excess costs attributed to health disparities. There were no excess direct costs due to health disparities for the other racial/ethnic groups over the four year period.

The indirect costs of lower worker productivity due to illness and premature death were calculated using data from MEPS and the CDC’s National Vital Statistics System. Over the four-year period, these factors cost the economy a total of $436.3 billion—lower worker productivity due to illness contributed $28 billion in excess costs, and premature death contributed $408.3 billion. Of the total indirect costs, African-American men accounted for $317.6 billion, or 72 percent; indirect costs totaled $115 billion for Hispanic men and $3.6 billion for Asian men.

“These stark findings underscore the fact that we can’t afford to overlook men’s health disparities that exist in this country,” added Thorpe. “The cost to society—both moral and economic—is staggering.”

*Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Are you a Registered HELEN Member?

The National REACH Coalition partnered with Morehouse School of Medicine and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies to develop a national exchange network for health equity champions.  

The Health Equity Leadership and Exchange Network (HELEN) provides a national forum for registered members to locate and share information about timely, relevant, and pressing policy issues impacting health equity today.  The project will include culturally tailored messaging for outreach and education efforts that help to increase understanding and demystify legislative and regulatory processes - employing a health equity lens to analyze health laws and policies. Our HELEN members will gain knowledge in effectively utilizing social media, listservs, webinars, symposia, conferences, and community events to empower individuals and communities to constructively impact health equity laws policies, and programs. 
We encourage you to become a member of the HELEN project today. Visit http://reachcoalition.org/helen-membership/ for additional information.                         
NRC's CTG Communities 

The National REACH Coalition was one of 3 national networks to receive a 5–year Acceleration Award through the CDC's Community Transformation Grant (CTG) program in 2011. The CTG program continues to support, disseminate, and amplify the evidence-based strategies for health improvement in African-American/ Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaskan Native populations.

In October 2013, through a competitive application process, the NRC selected and distributed funds to its 2013-2014 CTG
 sub-awardees.  Below are updates from several of the CTG initiatives.
The Activate Treasure Valley Initiative Bring Healthier Living Options to Idaho Residents

On the outskirts of Boise, Idaho sits rural Canyon County, where approximately 24% of residents are Hispanic/Latino, and are more likely to live in poverty and lack health insurance. Twenty-three percent of residents are not physically active, 29% are obese, and 19% smoke and experience higher rates of cancer, childhood obesity, diabetes and hypertension. These factors, combined with a lack of infrastructure, have resulted in an environment with limited access to healthier foods.
In May 2014, the “Activate Treasure Valley”, a Treasure Valley YMCA initiative brought together over 50 local partners that strategized and prioritized community level wellness. Event speakers included the Global Garden’s Local Food Security Expert, Katie Painter; Commuter-Ride’s Transportation Representative, Maureen Gresham; National REACH Coalition’s CTG-Program Manager, Apeksha Iyer; and Hidalgo Medical Service – Center for Health Innovation’s Executive Director, Charlie Alfero.
Leaders from the City Council (pictured below) were also present at the event to offer insight and suggestions towards community improvement. Partners of “Activate Treasure Valley” are invited to attend these events quarterly as an opportunity to collaborate, network and discuss ways to activate available resources within the community and achieve healthier lifestyles.  

From left to right: Cliff Nauman, Dave Morris, Claudia Suastegui, Anjie Knickrehm, Apeksha Iyer, Billie Bernasconi, Charlie Alfero, Terrence Biggers. 

The areas of focus that partners identified included initiatives that increased smoke-free and healthy eating environments. Under the National REACH Coalition- CTG program, Treasure Valley YMCA is doing just that. 
In Canyon County, the Y is currently implementing worksite wellness initiatives that create smoke-free environments.  The Y is also partnering with a local youth led agency called “Project Filer” to train youth tobacco prevention advocates and increase youth awareness on the dangers of smoking. In addition, the Treasure Valley group is teaming up with at-risk schools and childcare centers to implement physical activity, healthy eating and healthy vending standards. The Treasure Valley YMCA is certainly expanding access to healthier environments and hoping to serve over 1500 people with the smoking prevention and cessation program, and 765 students in the Canyon County school district.

NRC's REACH Communities

In September 2012, the National REACH Coalition was awarded a 5-year grant through the CDC's REACH 2012 program.  The NRC funded 15 community-based organizations engaged in developing strategies to reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. Due to recent CDC operating budget cuts, the REACH 2012 program ended. However, the work continues and speaks volumes to what impact community-led efforts can make towards the reduction of racial and ethnic health disparities.  Recent accomplishments of REACH 2012 sub-awardees are shared below.
The MUSC Introduce Smoke-Free Proclamations to Several Churches in South Carolina

A community health assessment is completed during the early stages of a REACH grant, to determine the existing health concerns for the sub-recipient’s target population. The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) located in Charleston, South Carolina, discovered a significant number of county residents who smoked or were exposed to second-hand smoking.  In Bamberg County, 21% currently smoke and an estimated 60-70% are exposed to second-hand smoke; in Georgetown 19% currently smoke while an estimated 60-70% are exposed to second-hand smoke; in Orangeburg 22% currently smoke and an estimated 60-70% are exposed to second-hand smoke; and in Williamsburg 20% currently smoke with an estimated 60-70% exposed to second-hand smoke. The county’s residents are predominantly African American, and are active participants in their local churches.  In an effort to strategically address the smoking behavior and engage the demographic population, MUSC successfully partnered with16 churches that agreed to sign smoke-free grounds proclamation, reaching more than 3,000 congregants. 

NRC-REACH Program Manager Angelica Alton, and Project Specialist, Chelsie White, performed a site visit at the MUSC with project leaders Carolyn Jenkins and Anna Tecklenberg, along with the community partners from Voorhees College in Bamberg, South Carolina.
The community assessment also found that 71% of the food vendors in Bamberg County alone were “fast food restaurants” and nearly half of its adults were obese.
In an effort to prevent younger generations from unhealthy behaviors, MUSC decided to enhance the nutrition and physical education capacity of the schools. Beyond improving the current health of students, MUSC is also supporting and guiding Bamberg school districts towards seeking a Research Funding Announcement to sustain their efforts on improved nutrition and physical activity. These efforts within the schools are reaching over 1,500 students from pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade. Although the REACH 2012 initiative will come to an end in June 2014, the MUSC continues to seek additional funding to sustain their 16 church partnerships and actively engage community members towards attaining a smoke-free and healthier lifestyle. 
The National REACH Coalition recently moved to a Monthly distribution of its newsletter. 
Do you have an idea for a future article or is there a specific topic/issue you'd like us to cover? Please feel free to e-mail us at info@reachcoalition.org and let us know. We want to hear from you!

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