When people think of minority populations, they
often think urban rather than rural communities. In fact, minorities
comprise 15 percent of the total rural population and account for
30 percent of the rural poor population. Minorities face a myriad
of problems ranging from chronic poverty among people in the Southeast,
to a lack of stable medical care for migrant workers, to language
barriers faced by newcomers to this country. Still others, such
Native Americans, face barriers dealing with the Western approaches
to medical treatment, that are not compatible with their culture.
The Health Resources Service Administration's Office of Rural Health
Policy (ORHP) has had a longstanding concern with the diverse health
needs of rural minority populations.
The Office has sought to overcome the lack of
National information on the health status of rural minority by funding
a publication titled: Minorities and Rural Health, 1997-1998,
a compilation of recent minority health research issues. ORHP also
contributed to a special edition of the Department's Office of Minority
Health newsletter, Closing the Gap featuring rural minority health
issues. Moreover, the office has, for the past eight years, worked
hard to bridge the gap in lack of service availability in this area.
To that end, the office has targeted 20% of its rural Outreach grant
funds to rural minority communities. The success of this initiative
is highlighted in a report tilted Outreach Profiles on Latino-Hispanic
Rural Health, which is available from the office.
In 1991, ORHP began working
with the National Rural Health
Association (NRHA), to promote the visibility of rural minorities.
It has co-sponsored, for four consecutive years, conferences on
rural minority health care interests. NRHA with ORHP's funding assistance,
has now added a cultural diversity topic to its annual conference
agendas. The fifth annual conference will be held in Denver, Colorado
December 9-11, 1999. For registration information contact NRHA at
A seminal report issued
in 1997 through NRHA and entitled A National Agenda for Rural
Minority Health summarized key issues and made recommendations
for further work in the areas of: information & data availability,
health policy and practices, and health delivery systems. Currently,
an NRHA multiyear initiative is underway seeking to find strategies
and funding to implement some of these recommendations. ORHP, a
partner in these activities, is involved securing the collaboration
of other rural groups and diverse minority agencies.
In cooperation with the
DHHS Secretary's Office of Minority Health, the Office has administered
a special grant initiative for AIDS education and prevention among
rural minority youth not currently exposed to existing education
campaigns. Over a period of eight years, local coalitions of health
and social service agencies have brought such education to young
minorities in Alaska, New Mexico, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia,
and California. In 1997, ORHP initiated and provided major funding
for the first Southeast regional conference to highlight the problem
of delivering health care to rural minorities affected by HIV/AIDS.
A report on innovative strategies for prevention and treatment was
developed from that conference: Southeastern Conference on
Rural HIV/AIDS: Issues in Prevention and Treatment conference Report.
For more information, Contact: HRSA, Federal Office
of Rural Health Policy, Room 9-A-55, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville,
MD., 20857. Phone 301-443-0835.