Health disparities, healthcare disparities and health inequities are pervasive, complex and challenging. However, they are not insurmountable. Health equity can be achieved in part by adhering to the advice of individuals who possess skill-sets to formulate appropriate questions; accurately assess challenges to health equity; and devise solutions that are science-based, strategic, and result-oriented.
Since 1989, the Ohio Commission on Minority Health (OCMH) has been at the forefront of addressing health disparities and health inequities in Ohio. The persistent nature of health inequities, effects of social determinants and new opportunities for systemic change requires expertise to address old challenges and maximize new opportunities. To this end, OCMH is implementing the Ohio Commission on Minority Health Medical Expert Panel (OCMHMEP) as one of its strategies to address health and healthcare disparities in Ohio.
The first panel in the series, "Achieving Equity and Eliminating Infant Mortality Health Disparities in Racial and Ethnic Population: From Data to Action", chaired by Lolita M. McDavid, M.D, M.P.A, F.A.A.P, offered insight and recommendations to eliminate disparities in poor birth outcomes and infant mortality. Infant mortality is defined as the death of any live-born baby prior to his or her first birthday. National and state public health data reveal that Black/African-American babies die 2 times the rate of White/Caucasian babies. Ohio infant mortality disparities are among the worst in the nation. Key recommendations were instrumental in the development of the state of Ohio's Commission on Infant Mortality, as well as legislation that led to statewide expansion of Infant Mortality funding initiatives.
The second panel in the series, "Achieving Equity and Eliminating Obesity and Diabetes Disparities within Racial and Ethnic Populations," chaired by Kwame Osei, MD, FACE, FACP, offered insight and recommendations to address diabetes mellitus and obesity in Ohio with the goal of achieving health equity. The OCMHMEP-O/D sought to influence the thinking, actions and policies, which function to transcend the status quo of unacceptable high incidence and prevalence rates of these diseases. Key recommendations were supportive of the legislation that led to the state of Ohio's Diabetes Action plan. Additionally, the Diabetes Action Plan, to be released in January 2018, includes recommendations, references, and resources as included in the Commission's Diabetes whitepaper.
The third panel series focusing on Health Equity will initiate on Thursday, January 11, 2018 under the leadership of Dr. Deena J. Chisolm, Ph.D. Dr. Chisolm is the Principal Investigator in the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at the Ohio State University. Dr. Chisolm also serves as a member of the Board of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health and is the Chair of the Grants Committee.