The mission for the ARCHD is to develop research to improve access to quality prevention and health care programs for racial and ethnic minorities with a goal of reducing health disparities.
The overall theme for the Arkansas Center for Health Disparities (ARCHD) is to develop research to improve access to quality prevention and health care programs for racial and ethnic minorities with a goal of reducing health disparities. The Center focuses on chronic disease disparities with an initial emphasis on cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, obesity, and cancer. Arkansas consistently ranks among the worst in the nation in health indicators, particularly for CVD and cancer morbidity and mortality. Already large disparities continue to increase. Arkansas has the fastest growing Latino population in the country and the largest Marshallese community outside of the Marshall Islands, in addition to a substantial African-American population. To address health disparities, strong collaborations have been forged among the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Public Health (COPH), the Arkansas Department of Health, and the Arkansas Minority Health Commission; and relationships are developing with the state’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). The Center will provide an infrastructure to strengthen these efforts and to develop and implement research to reduce disparities in the state’s minority populations.
Mary Kathryn “Kate” Stewart, MD, MPH, directs the OCBPH, which reports directly to the Dean. This office works to develop and maintain close partnerships with selected communities which may serve as models for community-based participatory public health programs; provide resources for faculty, staff, and students for research and service programs; participate in the development of grants; and conduct funded research projects.
The Engaged Institutions Initiative
Recognizing that eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities will require collaborative solutions to bring communities and institutions together, the Kellogg Foundation developed the Engaged Institutions Initiative. The Kellogg Foundation defines engaged institutions as those that “invest in lasting relationships with communities to influence, shape, and promote the success of both the institution and the community”. The goal of the initiative is to develop strategic action plans for becoming fully engaged.
Leaders within our OCBPH (Dr. Kate Stewart and others), our Assistant Dean for Minority Affairs (Dr. Eduardo Ochoa), our Assistant Dean for Government Relations and Special Projects (Willa Sanders, MPA), other members of the COPH and representatives from other UAMS Colleges formed an ad hoc Health Disparities Taskforce in January 2005 to examine methods for eliminating health disparities among UAMS’ many programs. The focus has largely been on UAMS’ clinical and educational programs, addressing barriers to health care access as well as enhancing cultural sensitivity in educational programs.
The INSP is Mexico’s recently-accredited school of public health. When they announced their interest in forming a partnership with 1-2 accredited schools of public health in the US, the UAMS COPH quickly realized that faculty and student exchanges and collaborative research programs with INSP concurred with our goals of enhancing our cultural competence and ability to address the needs of Mexican-Americans in Arkansas.
Arkansas has only one public health agency, the DOH, with a central, state office, located less than two blocks from the COPH, and at least one local health unit in each of the state’s 75 counties. Leadership in the DOH were instrumental in advocating for creation of the COPH, since they foresaw the COPH as being critical for improving the health of Arkansans. With the creation of the COPH, this vision has progressed, and a number of key collaborations continue to develop, including shared positions, cross-training of students and employees, and collaborative programs.
Arkansas HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)
Arkansas has three HBCUs: Philander Smith College, Arkansas Baptist College, and the University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff. Please visit the education section on your left for more information on these colleges.
The Arkansas General Assembly created the Arkansas Minority Health Commission in 1991 to address racial and ethnic health disparities. The Mission of the Minority Health Commission is to assure all minority Arkansans access to health care that is equal to the care provided to other citizens of the state, to provide health education, and to address, treat, and prevent diseases and conditions that are prevalent among minority populations.
UAB Center for Health Promotion (CHP)
The CHP was created at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) with funding provided by the CDC as part of their Prevention Research Centers (PRC) program. With a focus on community-based participatory programs to address racial and ethnic health disparities, the CHP developed into a center encompassing more than 150 faculty from 10 of the 12 UAB schools, other academic institutions including the state’s HBCUs, the Alabama Department of Public Health, and community partners.