Sheila Thorne, A Major Player In Minority Health Care Talks Getting Our Health Right, Especially During National Minority Health Awareness Month
African Americans are 40 percent more likely to die from stroke than any other facial group, 40 percent more likely to be obese, twice as likely to die from cervical cancer, 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer, 9 times more likely to be diagnosed with HIV and eight times more likely to die from AIDS—and 60 percent more likely to be diabetic.
“Our economic situation may have improved, but we are still dying faster,” declares multicultural healthcare marketer Sheila Thorne, CEO and founder of Multicultural Healthcare Marketing Group, LLC. Thorne is traveling around the United States to highlight this glaring and dangerous health disparity. And it is fitting that April is National Minority Health Awareness Month, and this year the focus is “Accelerating Health Equity for the Nation.”
“We are doing better economically as a group, but Blacks are still drying sooner and suffer from more chronic diseases.”
-Sheila Thorne, CEO and Founder of Multicultural Healthcare Marketing Group, LLC.
National Minority Health Month was actually launched more than 100 years ago as National Negro Health Week. It started in April 1915 when Dr. Booker T. Washington sent a letter to Black newspapers suggesting a “National Negro Health Week.”
Even though the Affordable Care Act’s coverage expansion is closing the health insurance gap, the discrepancy is still too large. Thus, Minority Health Care Month is still necessary. “The disparity for healthcare for minorities is still way too large. We need to close this gap.
Minorities still don’t have proper access to healthcare, they aren’t included for clinical trials, there still needs to be a focus on the discussions that affect them,” stresses Thorne, who is a leading expert on minority health care and has spent over 20 years designing and implementing marketing communications, cross-cultural health education, diversity, and cultural competency training initiatives and campaigns for diverse populations and the healthcare professionals who treat them through her company.
Thorne, who has been committed to eliminating health disparities and help achieve health equity, stresses that minority health care has not kept pace with economic advances in community. “We are doing better economically as a group, but Blacks are still drying sooner and suffer from more chronic diseases. We have to find out why.”
And Thorne says, the time is now to really work on the disparity issue. “I think there are few things driving this from my perspective, especially the rapidly shifting demo—before the end of the century the majority of people in the United States will be a person of color or a person of color who speaks Spanish. The time is now to look at the health concerns of these communities and to look at ways to implement change in order to work on these issues,” she says. “In the Black community, for example, there still is higher incidents of chronic disease and premature death,” notes Thorne. “We need to look at the causes of these stats and work on education, prevention, and treatment.”