“Without health and long life, all else fails.”
– Dr. Booker T. Washington
Recognizing that health is the key to progress and equity in all other things, Dr. Booker T. Washington proposed the observance of “National Negro Health Week” in April 1915. He called on local health departments, schools, churches, businesses, professional associations, and the most influential organizations in the African-American community to “pull together” and “unite… in one great National Health Movement.” That observance grew into what is today a month-long initiative to advance health equity across the country on behalf of all racial and ethnic minorities – National Minority Health Month.
Health equity is when everyone has the opportunity to be as healthy as possible.
Health disparities are differences in health outcomes and their causes among groups of people. For example, African American children are more likely to die from asthma compared to non-Hispanic White children. Reducing health disparities creates better health for all Americans.
Health is central to human happiness and well-being and is affected by where people live, learn, work, and play. According to the World Health Organization , health also makes an important contribution to economic progress.
After years of observing poorer health for Blacks and other minorities in comparison to Whites, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Margaret Heckler, commissioned a powerful task force in 1984 to describe these health results more fully and to consider what the federal government could do to address them. The Secretary released the Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health in 1985, known as the Heckler Report. The Heckler Report documented the extent of health disparities affecting Americans of color and recommending action steps for the nation to address these disparities. This was the first time the federal government provided a national picture of the health of racial and ethnic minorities. Since the publication of the Heckler Report, we are better able to describe more fully the health of all Americans