January 5, 2024

Dr. Mike's Top of Mind

Its Been Quite a Year

The Ethnic Health Report has been dedicated to addressing health issues affecting

people of color in 2023. While we strive for health equity, progress has been uneven,

particularly in addressing the health disparities faced by African Americans. It's

disheartening that our community still grapples with alarming rates of maternal and

infant mortality, every Black man suspected of Prostate Cancer should undergo an MRI

before a biopsy, and it's crucial to emphasize the importance of vaccinating all children against common childhood diseases, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

The impact of racism on the health outcomes of Black individuals is a given. Studies

reveal a pervasive sense of discomfort within the American healthcare system,

especially among people of color. It's no surprise, considering the disrespect and

disparities in testing and treatment. Interestingly, research shows that having a Black

doctor can significantly improve health outcomes within Black communities. But

unfortunately, the representation of Black doctors is disproportionately low, with only

around 3% of doctors being Black, despite Black individuals making up approximately

12% of the population. And we need to consider the impact of the Supreme Court

decision on developing the professional manpower necessary to reduce morbidity and

improve well being in our community.

Given these circumstances, it's becoming increasingly clear that individuals must take

charge of their own health to achieve the outcomes they deserve. Empowering

ourselves with knowledge, advocating for equitable healthcare, and actively engaging in

preventive measures are vital steps toward better health and well-being for all. Yes, the

journey toward health equity may be challenging, but by working together, we can strive

toward a future where everyone, regardless of ethnicity, receives the quality care they

truly deserve.

Stay Healthy,

Dr. Mike

If you find our Ethnic Health Reports informative and useful, please forward and share this email to your friends and family. #TogetherInThis 🙏

This Week

2023 Black Health Books of the Year

And Black America: Issues Affecting Black Health Outcomes

  • Disparities in Mental Health for Black Individuals Started Centuries Ago
  • Black Survey finds: People of Color Anticipate Discrimination During Health Care Visits
  • Lung Cancer Disparities in Black Communities
  • Effects of Delayed Menthol Cigarette Ban Continue for Affected Americans, Data Shows
  • Life Expectancy for Black People Is Up, CDC Reports

What to Do if your Child Snores

2023 Black Health Books of the Year

Equity, Equality and Justice for All - By: William Jamal Miller

At its core, this memoir emphasizes the shared responsibility everyone has to advance equity, equality and justice for all. This memoir was inspired during Miller’s tenure as California’s first-ever health equity officer and leading advisor to Governor Jerry Brown on issues of health and mental health disparities. Building upon several years of professional leadership experiences in the field of health and human services, Mr. Miller’s role as Deputy Director of California’s Office of Health Equity was a tipping point in his life - a time where he was afforded a platform to affect change at the highest levels of state government.

Focus on Your Best Health - By: Glenda Newell, MD and Brenda B. Spriggs, MD

Focus On YOUR BEST HEALTH provides those making health care decisions with a roadmap for successful outcomes. Strategies contained in this book demystify medical care by translating the obscure language of medicine, guiding savvy navigation of the heath care system, and promoting appropriate advocacy – showing where and how to get help. These physicians share their behind-the-scenes knowledge of how the system works to empower their readers.

Queenie Gets Her Shots - By: Jennifer King

Queenie Gets Her Shots was created as a part of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. East Oakland – Hayward Section's participation in the Good Health WINs (Women’s Immunization Networks) Initiative.

Their goal was to create an innovative way to share the importance of immunizations for vaccine preventable diseases with our community. They are keenly aware that vaccine hesitancy, especially among children, is often a result of being afraid of getting shots and with this, a children’s coloring book, was believed, would be the best way for us address this issue.

And Black America: Issues Affecting Black Health Outcomes

Disparities in Mental Health for Black Individuals Started Centuries Ago

Black individuals in the USA experience disparities in mental health that lead to unfavorable health outcomes and increased morbidity from mental illness due to centuries of racism. This article emphasizes the need to understand the roots of racial injustice to achieve racial equity. Historical factors such as European imperialism, enslavement, the myth of Black inferiority, and scientific racial classification have all perpetuated disparities, leading to the current underestimation, misdiagnosis, and inadequate treatment of mental illness in Black populations. Many of the issues discussed herein apply to Black people globally; however, our focus is on Black Americans and the inequities that result from the current US mental health system. We discuss the limitations of using the DSM-5 classification system and common epidemiological surveys, which do not capture or call for a comprehensive analysis of the systems producing mental health issues, to understand mental illness among Black Americans.

Black Survey finds: People of Color Anticipate Discrimination During Health Care Visits

Sixty-percent of Black adults; about half of American Indian, Alaska Native and Hispanic adults; and 42% of Asian adults surveyed said they prepare for medical visits by expecting insults from health care workers, or by being very careful about their appearance at least some of the time.

The survey also found many people of color reported that providers blamed them for their medical issues, ignored their questions and refused to prescribe pain medication.

Black Lung Cancer Disparities in Black Communities

The American Lung Association (ALA) reports this disease is even more pervasive and concerning in the Black Community. “Black individuals with lung cancer were 15% less likely to be diagnosed early, 19% less likely to receive surgical treatment, 11% more likely to not receive any treatment, and 16% less likely to survive five years compared to white individuals" the organization notes.

Effects of Delayed Menthol Cigarette Ban Continue for Affected Americans, Data Shows

The Biden Administration postponed its menthol cigarette ban. Menthol cigarettes increase nicotine's addictive effects on the brain, making quitting harder (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Data indicates aggressive marketing of menthols to Black communities, with a disproportionate number of Black smokers using them (CDC). The national ban was expected in late 2023 or early January. California and Massachusetts currently have bans in place strict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes.

Life Expectancy for Black People Is Up, CDC Reports

New federal data shows that Black people in America are living longer. According to a CDC report, the average age of death for Black individuals increased from 71.2 to 72.8 between 2021 and 2022. Compared to other races and ethnicities, Black non-Hispanic Americans had the third highest increase in life expectancy. American Indian and Alaska Native non-Hispanics gained 2.3 years, while Hispanics gained 2.2 years.

What to Do if your Child Snores

When a parent complains that their child snores, I pay attention. Here is what I suggest:

  • Take a recording of the child snoring;
  • Take it to your child’s doctor - light childhood snoring is normal, but the frequency, severity, and impact of childhood snoring can vary so a recording helps;
  • See and Ear Nose and Specialist

For more information, go to our website at www.aawellnessproject.org. or listen to our podcast at Blackdoctorsspeak.org on any podcast platform.

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About the Editor 

Dr. Michael LeNoir is just your neighborhood doc — a world-renowned allergist, a board-certified pediatrician, recognized expert on asthma in inner cities, and the President and Founder of AAWP. Serving the Bay Area since 1977, Dr. LeNoir has dedicated his career to helping African Americans navigate a healthcare system he saw first-hand that is fundamentally build on racial biases. Read More

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