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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 31, 2008

Gov. Blagojevich promotes state health programs for minorities in observance of National Minority Health Awareness Month
Governor fights against health disparities cited in recent national survey

SPRINGFIELD – In advance of the April observance of Minority Health Awareness Month, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today reminded people to take advantage of several successful state programs which help minorities take better care of themselves and their families. 
 
A recent survey by researchers at Harvard University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that minorities are more likely than white patients to rate their health care as fair or poor.  But, here in Illinois, the Governor has implemented programs to dispel health disparities among minorities.
 
“Significant health disparities, including differences in the incidence, prevalence, and mortality rate exist among minority groups for preventable health conditions and diseases like cancer, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS,” said Gov. Blagojevich.  Although the health status of all Illinois citizens has improved, we are working hard to ensure all men, women and children receive the necessary care to eliminate health disparities among our minority populations.”
 
Gov. Blagojevich announced the Communities of Color Initiative, in July 2003, administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Center for Minority Health Services to address health disparities within the African American and Hispanic communities.  The initiative works in conjunction with community-based, faith-based, educational institutions and local health departments to provide health prevention information and screening services to these, often underserved communities.  
 
“Gov. Blagojevich has been very innovative with his approach to help reduce health disparities.  He has created partnerships by reaching out to non-traditional organizations and faith-based groups, which include predominately minority members.  This new approach has been very successful.” said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.
 
The state has addressed the issue of inadequate access to health care.  During his tenure, the Governor has increased access to health care services for medically underserved and minority communities. 
 
 
Some of Gov. Blagojevich’s accomplishments with regard to dispelling minority health disparities:
 
  • SAC (Stand Against Cancer) program to address breast and cervical cancer among women of color.  Minority and uninsured women show significantly higher mortality rates for breast and cervical cancer than white women and/or insured women due to delayed diagnosis and less access to treatment.    
  • BASUAH (Brothers and Sisters United Against HIV/AIDS) to reduce new HIV/AIDS in African-American communities.  Since September 2005, this comprehensive awareness campaign targeting African Americans, has administered more than 6,000 HIV tests and identified and trained 600 peer educators.
  • Wellness on Wheels (4) mobile units that travel throughout the state to underserved areas that lack medical resources.  Among the health services, education and preventive services offered are
blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose screenings, rapid HIV testing, and prostate cancer screenings targeting African American men.
 
Each year the state sponsors activities and offers services during the April observance of Minority Health Month.  Activities will be held throughout the state to encourage communities of color to become more engaged with their health care needs.  (A list of events accompanies this release.) 
 
For more information about minority health services, call the Center for Minority Health Services at
(217) 785-3411 or log on to the website at www.idph.state.il.us.


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