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FOR RELEASE: October 30 , 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Health Department Awarded Funding to Eliminate Health Disparities

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has been awarded $4.25 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities among minority populations. The OSDH Chronic Disease Service is one of 40 organizations selected, from 22 states across the country, to take part in CDC’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) initiative.

The REACH initiative will support local efforts to address and overcome the unique causes of health disparities among the American Indian population in the Southern Plains Area of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. The funding will be used to address cardiovascular disease and diabetes through training and policy changes focusing on reducing risk behaviors related to physical activity, nutrition, breastfeeding, and tobacco cessation.

“We are extremely pleased to receive this funding to continue the great work accomplished with our American Indian tribal partners,” said Secretary of Health and State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher. “The successes of our tribal partners and the Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa over the last seven years are numerous.”

Along with the Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa, the project’s eight tribal partners include the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Cherokee Nation, Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, Chickasaw Nation, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, and Wichita and Affiliated Tribes of Oklahoma.

“Despite improvements in the overall health of the nation, health disparities remain one of the most important public health challenges of our time,” said Janet Collins, Ph.D., director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “We are extremely excited about the new REACH award recipients because they offer a plethora of knowledge in addressing health disparities and their innovative approaches will

help improve people’s health in our communities, health care settings, schools, and work sites.”
Through the REACH U.S. initiative, 18 national and regional Centers of Excellence in the Elimination of Disparities (CEEDs) and 22 Action Communities will be established throughout the country.

The CEEDs will serve as national resource centers with expertise in specific ethnic populations and will train other communities to spread the impact of REACH activities. The Action Communities will implement and evaluate successful approaches to impact population groups, rather than individuals, and focus on key health conditions that contribute to health disparities.
Since 1999, the REACH program has proven that fully including communities in health strategies to impact their social, economic, and cultural circumstances can reduce health disparities. For more information about the REACH program, visit CDC’s Web site at www.cdc.gov/reach.

To learn more about the OSDH Chronic Disease Service, American Indian Center for Excellence in the Elimination of Disparities in Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes, and the Oklahoma REACH U.S. project, please visit: www.health.ok.gov/program/cds/reach.html.

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