A health disparity is defined as a higher burden of illness, injury, disability or mortality experienced by one population group compared to another. While some progress has been made over the years, research has shown that differences do still exist in health care quality among racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S.
There are a number of factors that contribute to health disparities. Most are believed to be from social determinants of health – the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age – according to the World Health Organization.
African Americans have a higher rate of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS and infant mortality, according to the W. Montague/NMA Health Cobb Institute. In addition, statistics from the CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report—U.S. 2013 show that the tuberculosis rates remained higher among minorities compared to whites, the preterm rate for black infants in 2010 was about 60% higher compared to white infants, and 1 in 4 non-Hispanic black adults were considered uninsured in 2010.
A number of organizations and agencies exist to raise awareness of health disparities and to help close the gap through research, the development of policies, and various programs and initiatives. Though there have been some improvements, much more needs to be done.