WellShare’s mission is to advance sustainable community health. We also work to reduce health disparities in Minnesota and around the world. But what exactly are health disparities? And how does WellShare’s work help to increase health equity?
While Minnesota is ranked as one of the healthiest states in the U.S., it also has significant health disparities, which means that not everyone living in Minnesota has the same opportunity to be healthy. A recent report from MN Community Measurement (MNCM) entitled ‘2016 Health Equity of Care Report’ highlighted the stark differences in health care and health outcomes between certain population groups and regions in Minnesota.
In the report, it mentions that The American Public Health Association (APHA) defines health equity as “everyone has the opportunity to attain their highest level of health” and defines health disparities as “the differences in health status between people that are related to social or demographic factors such as race, gender, income or geographic region.”
The report highlights that many people of color and specific ethnic groups such as immigrants and refugees, are less likely to receive preventive health care services and more likely to suffer from negative health outcomes.
WellShare International has been working with underserved communities who suffer from the largest health disparities for almost 40 years. The Eliminating Health Disparities Program (EHDI), for example, aims to reduce the risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, and stroke in the Somali community by increasing daily physical activity and the consumption of healthy food. Program staff also conduct Chronic Disease Self-Management and Diabetes Prevention Program classes.In addition, health education materials are created in local languages as needed. The goal is to create an increased sense of well-being among the community members.
One of the main reasons that this program and WellShare’s other programs are able to reach those in need are due to the Community Health Workers (CHWs). They serve as a bridge between community groups and the health care system and link community members to the health care services and social services that they need.
Thanks to the EHDI program, and WellShare’s other programs, WellShare is contributing every day to reduce health disparities and increase health equity – enabling more and more people in Minnesota to receive the highest level of health.
written by Maria Tomczik