The Health Gap Between Black and White: Translating Concern Into Action

New Jersey Minority Health Summit

In 1999, New Jersey's Office of Minority Health, with the assistance of Allen and Partners, conference planners in Plainfield, N.J., convened a summit of state leaders to address the problem of continued disparities in minority health care status and outcomes in New Jersey.

Key Results:

  • The summit, "The Health of Minorities in New Jersey, Part I: The Black Experience," took place on September 21–22, 1999, at the New Jersey Hospital Association in Princeton, N.J.

    Approximately 250 people attended, including representatives of the health care and pharmaceutical industries, government, community-based organizations, community leaders, and business representatives.

    Presentations covered minority health data, cultural competency, and HIV/AIDS in the African-American community.

    Prior to the summit, Allen and Partners convened five focus groups from communities with large African-American populations. Discussions explored residents' health status, medical services received, and outcomes experienced.

    The state health commissioner hosted a breakfast for corporate leaders at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) on September 10, 1999, to promote participation in the summit.

    Allen and Partners summarized the findings of the focus group sessions in a report that was shared with summit attendees. A panel on best practices featured officials from Ohio and South Carolina. Participants also met in small groups to develop recommendations for action strategies to address state health disparities.

Recommendations: Based on recommendations that emerged from the summit, the Office of Minority Health Advisory Commission prepared a report outlining the following action steps:

  • Improve the state's data collection.
  • Address health disparities and HIV/AIDS in the African-American community.
  • Improve cultural competence in the state's health programs.
  • Strengthen the Office of Minority Health.

Further Dissemination: The Office of Minority Health produced a 31-minute video based on the summit, which was distributed to community organizations, companies in the health care field, and local health departments.

The Office of Minority Health also created a fact sheet illustrating the disparities in health status between African Americans and whites in New Jersey, which was distributed at a variety of conferences and seminars in the state.

The summit received local newspaper, television, and radio coverage.

A second summit, "The Health of Minorities in New Jersey, Part II: The Latino Experience," was held on June 2–3, 2000, without RWJF support. Recommendations from both summits will be used as a basis for future state policy changes regarding minority health.

In addition, a third summit, "The Asian American Health Forum" was held August 17, 2000, in Jersey City, N.J. Recommendations are expected by Fall 2001.

The Office of Minority Health appointed the Asian American Health Forum and the Latino Health Advisory Committee, which meet quarterly and provide advice to the state health commissioner on implementation of recommendations from the summits.

Also, "Regional Health Summit 2000: Eliminating Health Disparities Among Minorities"—a summit targeting Union, Middlesex, and Somerset counties—was held in Edison, N.J., on October 18, 2000.

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