News Release
   
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   March 20, 2001

Christine Grant
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Dennis McGowan or
Marilyn Riley
609-984-7160

 

New Jersey Hosts First National Summit on
Nutrition, Breastfeeding and Cultural Competency


TRENTON -- The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and the U. S. Department of Agriculture are sponsoring the first national Summit on "Nutrition, Breastfeeding and Cultural Competency: Eliminating Racial Disparities in Health."

More than 500 health care providers, community leaders, educators and government officials are expected to attend the historic Summit April 4--6 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick.

This is the nation's first Summit to focus on nutrition and breastfeeding as a means of eliminating racial differences in health status. Although the elimination of racial disparities in health is one of the goals of Healthy People 2010 (the federal government's report outlining the nation's health goals), the role of nutrition and breastfeeding have not been given the attention they deserve. Addressing these issues will broaden the scope of strategies available to health care providers.

To help accomplish the goal of eliminating racial disparities, the conference will focus on improving the cultural competency of health care providers and increasing the cultural awareness of institutions and programs that serve diverse populations.

"Breastfeeding gives babies a healthy start, which is an important first step toward good health later in life. If we are to eliminate racial disparities in health status, we must find ways to help all babies get a healthy start," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Christine Grant. "We look forward to working with all levels of government, health care, and the community to break down the barriers that lead to poorer health for some racial groups."

Dietary and nutritional factors underlie many conditions that contribute to health disparities between minorities and whites, including certain cancers, diabetes, infant mortality and cardiovascular disease. Nutritional interventions may be useful in reducing the morbidity/mortality gap between the races. Management of these diseases is also partially accomplished through exercise and activity. Interventions must be culturally appropriate to be acceptable and successful.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Workgroup on Breastfeeding cites studies that have shown that human milk is beneficial to the general health, growth and development of infants, and significantly decreases the risks for a large number of acute and chronic diseases throughout life.

The Summit will feature nationally known speakers representing federal agencies, several state departments of health, academic institutions, health care providers, advocacy organizations and professional associations.

Workshop topics include: Applied Cultural Competency, Civil Rights and Racial Disparities in Health, National Standards on Cultural and Linguistic Competency, The "HHS Blueprint for Action on Breastfeeding," and Race, Culture and Nutrition. Sessions will address the role of nutrition and physical activity in preventing obesity, strategies to prevent chronic diseases in diverse communities, increasing breastfeeding in diverse communities, and workplace issues for prenatal and postpartum women.

Also featured will be skill development workshops and interactive discussions, examples of best practices, poster sessions, and exhibits from national, state and local organizations. Participants also will have the opportunity to network with their colleagues and have access to the latest health care resources. There will be a number of opportunities to learn about other cultures through food, art and entertainment.

The Summit will culminate with participants from around the country working together to develop actions plans they can implement in their respective states to help eliminate racial disparities in health.

For more information or to register, please call the conference office at (908) 561-4062.



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