National Minority Health Month

12 Apr 2017

By Robin Williams, MD, FACS

Despite the vast advancements of modern medicine, significant health disparities remain amongst minority populations. Heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and unintentional injuries are the top 5 concerns that disproportionately affect minorities. Just to highlight a few disparities:

  • Thirty percent of African Americans are more likely to die from heart disease. Coronary artery disease occurs earlier in life and in higher percentage of Asian Indians than in other ethnic groups.
  • Seventy percent of African Americans and Latinos are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites. Twenty percent of Asian Americans are more likely to have type 2 diabetes than their non-Hispanic white counterparts.
  • Although the incidence of breast cancer is higher in white women, African American women tend to be diagnosed at an earlier age (58 compared to 63) and have a death rate that is 42% higher. Hispanic women have among the highest rates of cervical and gallbladder cancer.

The above information juxtaposed with the following heightens the need for awareness to be raised regarding minority health.

  • In 2008, approximately 33% or more than 100 million people identified themselves as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority population.
  • The Census Bureau predicts that by 2045, the racial and ethnic minority populations in the United States will grow to become one half of the US population.
  • The potential excess medical care expenditures for African Americans, Asians and Hispanics that were due to health inequalities is 30.6%.

April is National Minority Health Month. Sponsored by the Office of Minority Health (OMH), the theme this year is “Bridging Health Equity Across Communities.” Healthy People 2020 defines health equity as the “attainment of the highest level of health for all people.” This definition incorporates social determinants of health- where we live, work, play- as factors impacting overall health. OMH invites individuals and organizations to engage in their own communities to achieve equity. There will be a Twitter Town Hall on April 12 and a Twitter Chat on April 25. For more information, go to

“Without health, and until we reduce the high death rate, it will be impossible for us to have permanent success in business, in property getting, in acquiring education, or to show other evidence of progress”

~Dr. Booker T. Washington

Current Cardiology Reviews 2015 Aug:11(3): 238 – 245
The National Negro Health Week, 1915 – 1951: A Descriptive Account, Sandra Crouse Quinn, PhD; Stephen B. Thomas, PhD

Dr. Williams is board certified in general surgery.  Her clinical interests are diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the breast.  She is currently the Co-Chair for the Association of Women Surgeons Clinical Practice Committee.  She is a member of the Tennessee Medical Association and serves on the Insurance and Constitution and Bylaws Committees.  She is also a delegate for the Nashville Academy of Medicine.  Over the years, Dr. Williams has been an active participant in the Nashville community.  She has served as a board member of the Tennessee Breast Cancer Coalition, the Nashville Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and the MidSouth Division of the American Cancer Society.  From 2000 to 2007, she was president of the Nashville Chapter of the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer.  

Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.


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