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Although predominately White Nebraska has experienced a growth in racial diversity, the change in numbers also highlights how women of color in the state are suffering under the weight of health concerns impacted by a lack of adequate care. A three-year study from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services released late last week revealed that African-American women were more likely to die of cancer, heart disease, or stroke than any other group in the state.

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As Minority Health Month reaches its end, the Nebraska report turns a glaring eye on well-known differences in how women of color are affected by health issues. American Indian and Hispanic women in the state outpaced all others in developing diabetes and American Indian women are more likely to die from diabetic conditions. Also included in the report is the lack of health care and other services used to treat the conditions. Black women were shown to have less mammograms performed, while Hispanic women were less likely to get cholesterol screenings. Due to costs, all women of color were less likely to visit doctors.

Education and poverty levels were also determining factors. “The socioeconomic status of women strongly influences their health and overall well-being.  Striking disparities in non-completion of high school and in poverty were found in Black, American Indian, and Hispanic women in Nebraska,” shared Josie Rodriquez of the DHHS Office of Health Disparities and Health Equity.

Department officials in the state hope that the released data will inspire a change of views in how health care is administered to the minority women who need it most. “Addressing health disparities is one of my top priorities,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health for the Department of Health and Human Services.  “While multi-cultural and ethnic issues are challenging, it’s our goal to close the gap and help more Nebraskans live healthier lives.”


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