PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
March 28, 2013

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Christie Administration Marks April as National Minority Health Month with a Series of 150 Events ( En Español )

Theme - "Health Equity for All...Prevention Works!"

In celebration of April as National Minority Health Month, hospitals, local and county health departments and community groups will host nearly 150 free activities around the state including immunization clinics, exercise programs, screenings for breast cancer, blood pressure and cholesterol checks and cooking classes for diabetics.

"This month of April will showcase many events that focus on prevention strategies and screenings to improve the health of our residents," said Governor Christie. "The celebration of National Minority Health Month calls attention to the many ethnically and culturally diverse communities that make up the great state of New Jersey."

The Governor also signed a proclamation recognizing April as National Minority Health Month.

Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd encouraged New Jersey residents to attend the free health screenings, fairs and education sessions to prevent chronic disease and improve their health. "Chronic illnesses place a tremendous burden on New Jersey residents, accounting for seven of the 10 leading causes of death. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes alone are responsible for 58 percent of deaths in New Jersey."

The 2013 National Minority Health celebration will also include three regional Health Equity Forums, jointly sponsored by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, in Newark, New Brunswick and Camden. The efforts of community groups around the state to prevent chronic disease are in line with National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategies to reduce health disparities and with the Healthy New Jersey 2020 goals and objectives.  http://www.state.nj.us/health/chs/hnj2020/documents/hnj2020_brochure.pdf

Commissioner O'Dowd, Deputy Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito, Chronic Disease Programs Director Melita Jordan, Cathleen Bennett, Director of Policy and Strategic Planning, Carolyn Daniels, Executive Director of the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health (OMMH), and OMMH staff will participate in a variety of events throughout the month: 

  • Commissioner O'Dowd will visit the Monmouth County Health Department's Children's Immunization Program in Freehold on April 22
  • Deputy Commissioner Dr. Brito will visit the All Saints Community Service & Development Corp. in Hoboken on April 12
  • Chronic Disease Programs Director Jordan will attend the Trenton YMCA Healthy Kids Day in Trenton on April 27
  • Policy and Strategic Planning Director Bennett will attend seven events including the Health Equity forum in New Brunswick on April 2, a health fair in Buena Vista on April 3 and a Healthy Mothers/Healthy Babies family gardening event in Camden on April 30
  • OMMH Executive Director Daniels, will take part in six events including a session on reducing diabetes disparities in Hamilton on April 10 and a Korean health program at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck on. April 25.
  • OMMH staff will attend more than 35 events

 Key areas of health disparity in New Jersey include:

  • The death rate from stroke is significantly higher among blacks (50.2 per 100,000 population) than whites (31.6), Hispanics (22.3) and Asians (20.8)
  • The death rate from coronary heart disease is significantly higher among blacks (167.3 per 100,000 population) than whites (144.1), Hispanics (78.2) and Asians (66.1)
  • African-Americans account for 14 percent of the state's population, but represent 53 percent of those living with HIV/AIDS
  • Active cases of Tuberculosis have declined by about 70 percent in New Jersey since the early 1990s. While TB has been declining among residents born in the U.S., the number of cases is increasing among foreign-born residents. Nearly 85 percent of active TB cases in the state last year were among foreign-born residents.
  • New Jersey's Hispanic population has the lowest reported access to a primary care provider (65%), compared to whites (89%), blacks (82%) and Asians (84%)

The Department's Office of Minority and Multicultural Health (OMMH) is charged with reducing and ultimately eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities by fostering equal access to programs that promote, support and enable all populations in New Jersey to achieve optimal health, dignity and independence.  The OMMH website is available at www.state.nj.us/health/omh/index.shtml

A complete listing of events is available on the Department's website at www.state.nj.us/health/omh/documents/ommh_calendar.pdf