They seek to reduce health disparities in communities of color by providing vaccine access, chronic disease self-management, tobacco cessation, and breastfeeding support
MONTGOMERY, Ala., March 31, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Every April, The Wellness Coalition (TWC) observes National Minority Health Month. The month is an opportunity to build awareness about the disproportionate burden of premature death and illness in minority populations. It encourages action through health education, early detection, and control of disease complications.
This year’s theme, Give Your Community a Boost!, focuses on the continued importance of COVID-19 vaccination as one of the best tools we have to end the COVID-19 pandemic that has severely impacted communities of color. The Wellness Coalition formed the Health Equity Alliance to address COVID-19 vaccination disparities in the Black Belt counties of Macon, Montgomery, and Lowndes, focusing on the African American population.
“We know that some of the distrust of the COVID-19 vaccines is rooted in the historic medical abuse African Americans experienced in our state,” said Carmela Fleming, Health Equity Alliance program coordinator for The Wellness Coalition. “We hope that by building community trust, debunking vaccine myths, and making vaccines available to those who need them most, we can increase vaccination rates and protect our community.”
The Wellness Coalition also addresses disparities in health amongst communities of color with its Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) cooperative agreement funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Associated programs provide breastfeeding support, increased access to nutritious foods, chronic disease prevention and self-management, and tobacco cessation resources.
“We serve everyone in the River Region, however, people in minority groups are at higher risk of chronic disease due to insufficient knowledge, resources, or support to make healthy changes,” said Delia Hasberry, REACH program coordinator for The Wellness Coalition. “Whether people want to eat better, be more physically active, live in a smoke-free community, or get breastfeeding support, we want to give them the opportunity to achieve better health outcomes for themselves and their families.”
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
African American adults are 60 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician. The Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life. program teaches participants how to prevent type 2 diabetes by incorporating healthy eating and physical activity into their daily lives. Participants get a coach and support system for an entire year to help them make lifestyle changes and lose 5 to 7 percent of their weight — that’s only 10 to 14 pounds for a person weighing 200 pounds. TWC is hosting free virtual community meetings through April for anyone interested in learning more about the program. People can also take a 1-minute quiz to understand their risk of prediabetes: bit.ly/CYL2TWC.
Chronic Disease Self-Management
Many minority populations have long faced chronic disease health disparities due to socioeconomic inequities, barriers to education, and insufficient access to healthcare. TWC’s free HeartLink program teaches people how to manage and prevent chronic health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, and more. The program offers access to primary care, health insurance, free or low-cost medications, and self-management of cardiovascular disease, delivered by trained Wellness Navigators. To join HeartLink, visit bit.ly/JOINHEARTLINK.
Promoting Smoke-Free Public Spaces
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African American adults and children are more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke than any other racial or ethnic group. In partnership with the Alabama Department of Public Health, TWC has developed a Tobacco Task Force to bring the community together to address problems with secondhand smoke in public spaces and other tobacco-related initiatives. They are implementing a 5-year strategic plan, conducting a needs assessment, and developing an evidence-based publication, among other activities. Anyone interested in joining the Tobacco Task Force can submit their information at bit.ly/TWC-TOBACCOTF.
Despite the many benefits of breastfeeding for moms and babies, studies show that breastfeeding rates are lower in non-Hispanic Black communities than in any other ethnic group. To normalize breastfeeding amongst Black mothers, TWC educates people on the benefits of breastfeeding and the importance of breastfeeding-friendly hospitals and workplaces. They also provide access to free breastfeeding support groups and host regular webinars. Find breastfeeding resources at: thewellnesscoalition.org/breastfeeding.
ABOUT THE WELLNESS COALITION
The Wellness Coalition provides no-cost coaching, education, and other services for River Region residents to manage and prevent chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, hypertension, obesity, and more. To learn more, visit www.thewellnesscoalition.org or call (334) 293-6502.