SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah, Sept. 22, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Salt Lake County Health Department announced Wednesday that it has been awarded a two-year, $3,844,568 grant to support projects that reduce health disparities among minorities.
The grant was awarded by the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the SLCoHD said in a prepared statement.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health disparities are defined as “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations,” the SLCoHD said.
SLCoHD said it will use this grant to improve health literacy — a health disparity it says is largely associated with “low health outcomes” including more hospitalizations, greater use of emergency care, fewer health screenings and vaccinations, and higher mortality rates.
“Health literacy is critical because, at some point in our lives, we all need to be able to find, understand and use health information and services in order to make the best choice for our well-being,” said Dr. Angela Dunn, SLCoHD executive director. “When people don’t receive clear communication regarding health information, it can be detrimental to their health and the health of those around them. We have become acutely aware of how important this is during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for diverse and multicultural communities that have carried the heaviest burdens of infection, hospitalization, and death.”
SLCoHD says it plans to develop and strengthen alliances with grass-root community groups to develop and deliver culturally sensitive health messaging which provides a trusted link to vital sources of public health information.
“It became abundantly clear during COVID that there were gaps in serving the needs of populations experiencing inequities which also causes disparities,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson in the SLCoHD statement.
In April 2020, Wilson formed the Equity for Diverse and Underserved Communities team as part of the county’s COVID response. The EDUC helps mitigate language barriers and provides access to health and economic information with a focus on testing and vaccination.
Last week, the Daniels Fund Ethics Initiative at the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business and the Community Foundation of Utah presented the EDUC team with its Utah Ethical Leadership Award, recognizing the organization’s exceptional dedication to ethical conduct, the SLCoDH statement said.
Wilson said: “I am so proud of our Equity for Diverse and Underserved Communities team for working tirelessly throughout COVID to lift historically under-resourced populations in unique ways. And now, with the Salt Lake County Health Department receiving the Advancing Health Literacy Grant, we will be able to further our work in making sure health information is available, clear, and equitable.”