Alexander, Frist Announce $5 Million To Combat Minority Health Disparities

Posted on October 2, 2003

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today announced that Meharry Medical College will receive $5 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for research on minority health disparities. "The diversity of our nation is one of our greatest assets," said Frist. "And one of our greatest challenges is reducing the health care gap experienced by racial and ethnic minorities, Appalachian residents, and other health disparity populations. I congratulate Meharry for winning this funding and hope that it will enable critical research to close the gap that exists in health today." "I appreciate this significant investment by the Department of Health and Human Services," Alexander said. "This funding will go a long way to decrease minority health disparities and improve the well-being of Tennesseans and people across this nation." Infant mortality rates are twice as high among African Americans as whites. The prevalence of AIDS in Latino populations is four times higher and among African Americans is nine times higher than that of whites. African American children are twice as likely to have asthma and six times more likely to die from asthma than white children. And the diabetes mortality rate is more than twice as high among African Americans and Native Americans. The National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD), which awarded this grant, is located in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within HHS. NCMHD conducts and supports research, training, dissemination of information, and other programs with respect to minority health conditions and other populations with health disparities. In particular, the NCMHD serves as the focal point for coordinating and focusing the minority health disparities research and other health disparities research programs at the NIH into a national health research agenda. Frist introduced the "Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Education Act," which established NCMHD and was signed into law on November 22, 2000. The bill expanded research and education into the biomedical, behavioral, economic, institutional, and environmental factors contributing to health disparities in minority and underserved populations. Both Frist and Alexander are members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over HHS and NIH.