Women have higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and depression than men, and for ethnic minority women, the risks and burden are even greater. Now public health and policy leaders are trying to bridge that gap.
City of Hope’s Kimlin Tam Ashing-Giwa, Ph.D., professor of population sciences and director of the Center of Community Alliance for Research & Education, recently led more than two dozen health experts in a discussion as part of the Women’s Health Policy Summit. The Los Angeles County Office of Women’s Health organized the event in late May.
“Ethnic minorities experience high incidence of chronic diseases and suffer disproportionately from chronic morbidity and mortality due to illnesses,” said Ashing-Giwa. “It’s an indication that treatment for an initial diagnosis and follow-up care are less than optimal for large segments of the population.”
Group members focused on racism, multiculturalism and health and identified critical changes needed in access to health care, disease prevention and quality of care.
The group submitted its findings to the Los Angeles Department of Health as attainable goals for the next two to three years. County officials are obligated to consider the goals.
“The first steps to securing effective public policy always include convening all stakeholders, identifying serious issues and agreeing on goals,” Ashing-Giwa said. “We’ve made a good start in the process. Now we have to do what any good doctor or health-care provider does with a patient — provide the best treatment and follow-up, and provide the structures and support that foster healthy communities.
“Otherwise, we won’t see better health results.”