The mission of the Office of Minority Health (OMH) is to improve and protect the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will eliminate health disparities.
OMH was established in 1986 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It advises the Secretary and the Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS) on public health program activities affecting American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders.
ORGANIZATION AND LEADERSHIP
OMH is led by Garth Graham, M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and Mirtha Beadle, M.P.A., Deputy Director.
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ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON MINORITY HEALTH
The Advisory Committee on Minority Health advises HHS, through the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, on improving the health of each racial and ethnic minority group and on the development of goals and specific program activities of the Office of Minority Health.
OMH's Regional Minority Health Consultants (RMHCs), in the 10 HHS Regional Offices, help build networks of consumers and professionals working on minority health issues. OMH works with established State offices of minority and multicultural health, and provides technical assistance, as requested, to minority community groups who are working to establish similar entities within their states.
OMH operates the OMH Resource Center (OMHRC), which serves as a free information and referral service on minority health issues for community groups, consumers, professionals, and students. It assists OPHS and OMH in distributing scientifically valid and culturally-competent health information, encourages public participation in HHS programs, and assists in conducting health campaigns. OMHRC maintains a minority health knowledge center and database; helps link people to HHS health services and resources; distributes publications; manages exhibits; publishes funding opportunities; maintains a list of volunteer resource experts available to the public; and conducts literature searches.
The Resource Center also provides capacity development services to smaller, underserved faith and community-based organizations. Principal areas in which assistance is offered include: organizational infrastructure, cultural competency, community outreach, program design, communications, and training. Technical assistance is provided through a combination of regional skills-building workshops, on-site consultations, and telephone, mail, and e-mail consultations.
OMHRC operates a toll-free telephone service (800-444-6472), accessible throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; and provides a TDD telephone (301-251-1432) for the hearing-impaired. Bilingual information specialists answer English and Spanish-language inquiries.
Established in 1987 under an administrative order, OMHRC has been authorized since 1990 by Section 1707 of the Public Health Service Act, as amended. Services of the Resource Center are provided without charge.
CENTER FOR CULTURAL AND LINGUISTIC COMPETENCE IN HEALTH CARE
The Center for Cultural and Linguistic Competence in Health Care serves as a resource for health care professionals to address the cultural and linguistic barriers to health care delivery and increase access to health care for limited English-proficient people. Through the Center, OMH supports research, demonstrations, and evaluations to test new and innovative models aimed at increasing knowledge and providing a clearer understanding of health risk factors and successful prevention intervention strategies for minority populations. OMH has developed several tools to promote cultural and linguistic competence including the National Standards on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS), the continuing medical education program, A Physician's Practical Guide to Culturally Competent Health Care, and the new Patient-Centered Guide to Implementing Language Access Services in Healthcare Organizations.
OMH advises the Department on health policy issues affecting health status and access to care among minority populations. It coordinates programs to help HHS implement minority initiatives, including the HHS Disparities Initiative, the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities, and the HHS Minority HIV/AIDS Initiative.
OMH works with HHS operating divisions and other Federal departments to improve collection and analysis of data on the health of racial and ethnic minority populations. It monitors efforts to achieve Healthy People 2010 goals for minority health.
GRANTS AND COOPERATIVE AGREEMENTS
OMH organizes demonstration projects through joint agreements with operating divisions of the Department, funds grants for health projects conducted by minority faith and community- based organizations and coalitions, and funds cooperative agreements with major national minority organizations.
OMH develops and implements health campaigns to increase awareness of health disparities and promote prevention. Campaigns encourage communities, individuals, health providers, businesses, and national, state, community and faith-based organizations to get involved in eliminating health disparities.
OMH's current campaign, A Healthy Baby Begins with You, is a national infant mortality campaign to raise awareness about infant mortality with an emphasis on the African American community - as one of our efforts to end health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities. The launch event was a health fair in Washington, DC in May 2007. During the events, expectant parents will be encouraged to utilize community resources and become educated about the things they can do to give their babies a healthy start.
Past campaigns such as the Closing the Health Gap, pioneered in 2002, created a unique partnership with the ABC Radio Networks to increase awareness of health issues among African Americans. The campaign stimulated community health events around the nation that included free health screenings, fairs, and workshops. In 2003, Closing the Health Gap expanded its focus to bring the best health information to more communities, including Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Two key elements of the Closing the Health Gap campaign have been Celebra La Vida Con Salud (Celebrate A Healthy Life) and Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day. Celebra La Vida Con Salud promotes prevention, helps link Latinos to health services, and celebrates health by drawing upon family and community strengths to make good health practices a part of daily living. The campaign is a series of educational events and media outreach activities including a traveling health fair touring 10 cities, health segments on the Prevenir es Salud and local radio shows, and public service announcements featuring health messages on issues that impact the Latino community. To date, thousands of people have participated in the health fairs and received free health screenings and information. Stay tuned for a fair in a city near you.
Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day, which takes place on the third Tuesday in September, encourages individuals to help prevent diseases by making an appointment for a health screening, attending a health event in the community or helping a friend, neighbor or family member do the same. More than 300 community, faith-based, fraternal, and health organizations signed on to the campaign and organized local events each year since 2002. National radio host Tom Joyner continues to lead this effort through his Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day campaign each year. The campaign emphasizes the importance of preventive screenings and to acknowledge all health professionals involved in keeping communities healthy. OMH is not actively managing the campaign this year, but continues to support its partners and communities planning Take a Loved One for a Checkup Day events.
OMH also coordinates campaigns that are focused on health issues that affect specific minority groups, such as the national Know What to Do for Life education campaign. It is designed to help reduce the infant mortality rate among African Americans due to preterm birth, low birth weight, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The Know What to Do for Life campaign is part of the HHS Closing the Health Gap on Infant Mortality Initiative's three-part approach to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in infant deaths--including research coordination among HHS agencies, risk reduction efforts in communities, and communications activities to improve awareness of factors that contribute to infant mortality.
OMH was proud to sponsor the 11th Annual National Hispanic Medical Association Conference March 22-25, 2007, in San Antonio, TX to bring together experts from across the nation to share their experience in eliminating health disparities for Hispanics.
This conference brought together leaders from all levels of government, academia, public health, minority-serving institutions, and minority communities to discuss key issues and goals such as: providing clinical updates on diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDs, obesity, cardiovascular disease, asthma, alzheimer’s disease, and renal disease, increasing awareness about cultural competence, literacy, language services and medical care delivery to Hispanics, increasing knowledge about Federal and State health policies that impact Hispanics, developing skills for health professionals in academic medicine, research, private sector and government, and making recommendations targeted at Hispanics for the national health policy agenda in the U.S.
In October 2004, OMH sponsored the First National Child Health and Child Welfare Conference to help address the health and welfare disparities of racial/ethnic minority children, bridge the health and human services systems, and achieve positive outcomes for racial/ethnic minority children.
OMH also sponsored the first National Leadership Summit on Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health, which drew 2,200 community representatives to Washington, D.C., in July 2002, for strategy and skills-building sessions.