Alabama Office of Minority Health
Prepared by National Association of State
Offices of Minority Health (NASOMH)
John Hankins, MD, Director
Office of Minority Health and
Director, Office of Women’s Health
Alabama Department of Public Health
201 Monroe Street – RSA Tower, Suite 710
Montgomery, AL 36104
Phone:( 334) 206-5226
Fax: (334) 206-5663
The Minority Health Section was established administratively by the State Health Officer in May 1991 and housed within the State Office of Primary Care and Rural Health. Prior to that date, the health department did not have any organizational entity that focused exclusively on minority health activities. The impetus for creating the Section was the Health Officer’s concern over the discrepancy in health status between the minority and non-minority populations. In July 2006 the Minority Health Section was elevated to an Office status and administratively located within the Bureau of Professional Support and Services.
The mission of Alabama’s Office Minority Health (AL-OMH) is to (1) improve the health status of minority populations; (2) improve access to quality health care services for minorities; (3) promote minority presence and participation in health planning and policy information; and (4) enhance and promote public awareness of health care needs of minority populations.
Advisory Boards or Minority Health Committees
A Minority Health Advisory Council was established in 1999 to advise the AL-OMH on policy issues, health planning and strategies for the elimination of health disparities. In 2007 the Council transitioned into a Health Disparities Advisory Council within the Alabama Department of Public Health structure. The membership composition consists of program management staff such as Chronic Disease Directors, Maternal and Child Health Directors, Communicable Disease staff, and Emergency Preparedness staff.
Health Planning/Policy Development Issues
The mission of the Alabama OMH is to improve the health status of minority populations by improving access to quality health care services and promoting minority presence and participation in health planning and policy formation. Policy efforts have focused on recognition of the health care needs of the racial and ethnic populations with an emphasis on health service delivery systems and disease prevention programs.
Acknowledging the diversity and changing demographics of Alabama, the Office of Minority Health partners with community-based organizations, regional coalitions and other state agencies to provide training and technical assistance in disease prevention personal interventions to promote healthy choices in nutrition and physical activity. AL-OMH has implemented training in several counties using the following curriculums: New Leaf Interventions for Healthy Choices, Heart Truth, and SEARCH Your Heart.
AL-OMH participates in over 14 state, regional and National Health Advisory Councils, including Southern Regional Health Consortium, Alabama Medical Education Consortium, National Rural Minority Health Association, Deep South Network, REACH 2010, Project EXPORT, Adult Immunization Coalition, NIH Hearth Truth Campaign, American Heart Association Red Dress Campaign, and the Power to End Strokes Campaign.
The Office of Minority Health actively participates in cosponsoring health workshops with local community organizations, regional entities and state level conference conveners addressing health inequities among African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and Asian Americans. Alabama’s OMH is also working with local Community Health Advisors and Latina Promotoras in nine counties of the state to promote breast and cervical Cancer early detection and screening in underserved and uninsured women. The AL-OMH provides leadership in enlisting minority partners to conduct outreach to communities in need of statewide programs such as REACH 2010 and Sowing Seeds of Health. REACH 2010 is a CDC-funded Alabama project using Community Health Advisors as lay health workers promoting screening and early detection of breast cancer in African American women. Sowing Seed of Health is a program training Latinos as lay health workers (Promotoras) in breast cancer awareness screening and early detection. The AL-OMH has collaborated with the Alabama Indian Affairs Commission and has completed the first health survey, “Health Survey of American Indians of Alabama 2008: Keeping the Circle Healthy”. This document presents for the first time a self reported picture of the risk factors, health status and lifestyle behaviors of Alabama Indians.
Program Data Evaluation
Utilizing the internal Alabama Department of Public Health Disparities Advisory Council, the OMH is collaborating with the Council’s Evaluation Committee to develop tools to measure the effectiveness of service delivery in the public health chronic disease programs. The AL-OMH’s web site to showcases the different state, regional and local activities taking place to reach the Healthy People 2010 goals by 2010.
Eliminating Health Disparities Statewide Initiatives
Through funding provided by the Federal Office of Minority Health’s State Partnership Grant Program, the AL-OMH has initiated data collection action steps needed toward the formation of a State Health Disparity Plan. Base line data has been collected on the health indicators of the five minority population groups in Alabama. A draft State Health Disparities Plan was unveiled November 15, 2008. The preliminary work toward the publishing of a health disparities elimination plan has been addressed by the Public Health Department’s internal Health Disparities Advisory Council. However, the Faith Based organizations and other state entities have not come together as one body in the planning process.
Level of Funding Sources
The current staffing consists of a director, an assistant director, a public information specialist, a health equity manager, and an Administrative Support Assistant. The AL-OMH share (in-kind) a half time research analysis consultant position with the Office of Rural Health to assist with data retrieval and data analysis of the community health assessments.
In 2006, the AL-OMH produced a document entitled, “Emergency Preparedness Resource Guide to the Mobile Area: Connecting the Community to Community Resources.” This publication was produced as a response to the need to identify community level resources after Hurricane Katrina.
In February 2009, the AL-OMH published a document entitled, “Health Survey of American Indians of Alabama 2008: Keeping the Circle Healthy.” This document presents for the first time a self reported picture of the risk factors, health status and lifestyle behaviors of Alabama Indians.
All of the publications by the AL-OMH can be downloaded in PDF format on the web-site at www.adph.org/minorityhealth.