By: Tonya Jackson
April is Minority Health Month and according to acting assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Sylvia Burwell, “Racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care persist across many communities. Minority communities still continue to suffer higher rates of serious health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.”
In her March 2013 white paper, Dr. Susan Turner, former associate director of the Escambia County Health Department, noted, “Our community experiences several distressing racial disparities. Infant mortality is three times more prevalent in black babies than in white. Chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease are all more prevalent among our black population.
Dr. P. Michelle Grier-Hall, with First Steps Pediatrics, knows the sobering statistics for our area all too well and for nearly ten years she and her sorority, the Pensacola Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. have partnered with Zion Hope Primitive Baptist Church to sponsor a biennial Health and Wellness Fair. This year the latest health fair was held Saturday, April 16th, with the theme, “Good Health is Good Living!”
This health fair is a reminder, as Grier-Hall puts it, “when we work together we can get more done.” She added, “So many diseases affect African-Americans because we are not proactive, we encourage people to get their screenings done and do more preventative care. We want to make sure we have better outcomes with diabetes and heart disease.”
Health fair sponsors included Florida Blue, Humana, Sacred Heart Health Systems, West Florida Pavilion, Coca-Cola, and Subway, located at 100 S. Palafox Place.
The Zion Hope Health Care Ministry checked blood pressure, weight, and BMI (body mass index). Blood donation was made possible by One Blood. Sacred Heart Hospital Heathy Heart Screenings checked for cholesterol, diabetes, and anemia. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation conducted HIV screenings. Ears 2 Hear provided hearing screenings. Spinal alignment screenings were conducted by The Spinal Center.
During the Zumba presentation by Shannon Erdwins-Suarez all attendees and vendors were encouraged to get on their feet. Giggles the Clown painted faces. The health fair also had information and fun for the entire family. Grier-Hall stated that their next health fair will be in 2018.
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