April is Minority Health Awareness Month
The theme for the 2016 National Minority Health Month is “Accelerating Health Equity for the Nation.” In the context of the ongoing primary elections, minorities and all problems concerning social equity are again in focus. Beyond the language of extremism and intolerance which is promoted more than it should be by the media, our society is obviously taking faster steps and the right kind of steps towards an ideal of equality and acceptance.
National Minority Health Month has a history which goes back almost 100 years, to the ancestral National Negro Health Week. It all started with the initiative of Dr. Booker T. Washington, who contacted in April 1915 a large number of African American newspapers, in an attempt to highlight the importance of having an awareness movement geared on the health of the African American community. He argued that without health and long life, all else is destined to fail, a very good abbreviation of the values of our National Health System. But his effort was not limited only to the media, and he went the extra mile and called local health departments, schools, churches, businesses, professional associations, and the most influential organizations in the African-American community to join the common effort. Although timid at that time, the expression “National Health Movement” was used in the speech of Dr. Booker T. Washington, a solid proof that ideals of unity and equity beyond race were well nurtured even a century ago. We have to acknowledge the true importance of the event, in a country which had an ongoing serious segregation crisis at that time. Although African American were gradually winning the deserved rights and position in society, they would have to wait for half a century before the Civil Right Movement finally put things in the right gear, towards true change.
The 1915 initiative grew in what is today a national campaign taking place each year over the course of one full month. The National Minority Health Month received the needed support from the U.S. Congress in 2002, with a concurrent resolution that put the highlights on the health problems currently facing minorities. The National Minority Health Month has consolidated in recent years as one of the most successful initiatives of its kind. Health equity might sound like an ideal impossible to achieve by our ever changing and always imperfect society, but at least we need to put in a fight. No big problem will resolve itself if active measures are not taken and if a considerable segment of the society is not involved. Engagement and activism were always the premises for gaining freedom and rights, and they will continue to be for as long as we will live in a democratic society. As last year marked the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the movement, we can only look forward at a century in which the only direction is forward.
The logo of the 2016 National Minority Health Month is very fine tuned to the message. Resembling the strength of a radio signal, it points out very well the idea that we need to accelerate the way in which we are dealing with current problems. We also need the signal broadcasting on all available frequencies by addressing health at all layers of society. Reports after reports indicate that neglecting health issues has a negative impact on the perceived quality of live, level of happiness, as well as on the economy. Promoting equality and equity is the first step towards promoting early screening, regular visits to the doctor, as well as preemptive measures related to a healthier lifestyle. All changes need time to happen, but there are multiple ways in which change can be accelerated. By enrolling as many individuals as possible as promoters of change, any awareness movement gains access to momentum. We can easily see how the strength of the colored signal keeps its strength through the voices of millions.
You can join the effort behind the National Minority Health Month by promoting it in your social media and by letting anyone know that you are done being passive about problems which concern you as a member of society. Check the calendar of the institutions involved in the project and attend as many meetings and events possible. Together we can make change happen.