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Health Disparities Among African-Americans

By: Marise Estime
By: Marise Estime

African-Americans in Jefferson County are dying prematurely at an alarming rate from several diseases that could be prevented or managed. A group of concerned health officials and citizens are meeting to see if they can help save lives in Jefferson County.

Dan Henry is a Jefferson County resident who was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago. Since then he's been following his doctor's orders to avoid any problems.

Dan says, "I've been trying to do things right like they told me or prescribe for me to do, and it works out okay."

Thursday, a committee of health officials and concerned citizens met to discuss health disparities among African-Americans in the rural county and find ways to prevent premature deaths.

Kim Barnhill an administrator for Jefferson Health, says, "We're committed to making a difference in health status of African-Americans in Jefferson County. We're going to do that and be successful.”

A three-year data analysis compiled by health officials shows African-Americans are dying from heart diseases, cancer and diabetes more so than any other group. It's a sobering statistic that's baffling to some residents.

Gladys Roann, a nurse and concerned citizen, says, "I want to find out and I want to do something about it, whatever needs to be done. It was highly upsetting to me because I didn't realize it was that much of a gap between the two groups."

The goal of this committee is to reach out to African-Americans and share information about programs available to them in the rural area. The committee is hoping to get ministers involved by using their pulpits to share the message of proper health and treatments.


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