By Guest Blogger Jo Ann Simons, President /CEO, Cardinal Cushing Centers
It’s been a full decade since Yale University released its literature reviews for Special Olympics which opened my eyes to the dramatic and shameful health disparities that exist for Americans with disabilities. Now a new report out of the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire goes even further. It examines the health status of working-age (18-64) people with disabilities, as reported to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the nation’s premier public health survey.
Among the report’s key findings you may find some that surprise – and dismay — you:
- If people with disabilities were a formally recognized minority group, at 19% of the population, they would be the largest minority group in the United States.
- The highest proportion of people who say their health is fair or poor is found in people with disabilities (40 percent, compared to 23 percent of Hispanics, 22 percent of American Indian/Alaska Natives, 18 percent of blacks, and 8 percent of Asians).
- People with disabilities have the highest rates for 10 of the 14 selected health indicators including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
If the nation received this report on the health status of any other minority group, there would be public outrage and calls for increased funding. But, because it involves people with disabilities who often can not advocate for themselves, it falls upon us to demand that their health be as high a priority as any other minority group. Please join me in raising our voices on our local, state and national levels.
For more information on the Health Disparities Chart Book and to download a copy, visit http://iod.unh.edu/Projects/health_disparities/chartbook.aspx
— Jo Ann Simons