Connecticut Commission on Health Equity (CHE): Eliminating Health Disparities and Improving the Health for all Connecticut Residents

Hartford, CT (PRWEB) May 02, 2011

The Connecticut Commission on Health Equity (CHE) will hold a series of Public Forums on Health Disparities held in May.

State data reveal that minorities, largely African American, Hispanics, Asian American/Pacific Islanders and Native Americans, are less likely to have access to quality health care and to suffer from more disease over the life course. Social factors, when combined with racial and ethnic minority status, can result in reduced access to quality health care and disparities in health outcomes. Connecticut data mirrors national statistics that show that racial and ethnic minorities as well as low-income groups are likely to die considerably younger than their white or more affluent counterparts.

“This effects all of our lives,” says Executive Director of CHE, Dr. Raja Staggers-Hakim. “At every level persons of color, less educated populations, and poorer communities are vulnerable to health disparities.”

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines disparity in health as “the condition or fact of being unequal, as in age, rank, or degree.” Differences in health care for different populations may be the result of a number of causes. At the individual level, a patient may receive different treatment because of stage of disease process, personal choice, insurance coverage, language barriers, race, ethnicity, gender or a host of socioeconomic conditions such as poverty, homelessness, disability, and old age. While it may not be possible to delineate the cause or causes of treatment differences, how individuals and groups of individuals are provided treatment can be documented to determine disparities.”

In 2008, the General Assembly of Connecticut approved and Governor M. Jodi Rell signed into law Public Act No. 08-171: An Act Establishing a Commission on Health Equity. It was predicated on three important assumptions. First, high quality health care is a human right and a priority of the State of Connecticut. Second, state-based research and experience reveal that Connecticut residents face barriers to high quality health based on racial, ethnic, national origin, and linguistic ability. Third, such barriers should be addressed through the collection, analysis, and reporting of information that identifies causes and leads to the development and implementation of policy solutions that both address health disparities and improve the health of Connecticut citizens.

The twenty-eight members of the Commission represent all departments of the Executive Branch of the State of Connecticut, University of Connecticut, Yale University, Black, and Hispanic Caucuses of the General Assembly, key community and legislative groups representing African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, and Women and members of the public representing disenfranchised populations.

“The Commission has done some research and highlighted certain health priorities that are more pervasive in communities of color,” says Dr. Staggers-Hakim.

The Commission approved the recommendations of the Data Committee identifying cancer, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality/low birth weight, diabetes and asthma as the most salient health issues requiring urgent efforts to improve racial and ethnic health equity.

“We have a lot of work to do to understand the totality of factors that support and aggravate health disparities at all levels across the State,” says Dr. Staggers-Hakim. “The forums are an avenue to hear from the communities themselves to understand those key factors that are occurring and how people see these inequities persisting.” CHE’s Public Voice Committee found that consumers, community leaders, faith-based organizations and health institutions need to strengthen collaborations for information-sharing, cultural competency education, workforce development and policies and procedures for health promotion/disease prevention. Dr. Raja Staggers-Hakim says, “We hope to draw the greater public, health professionals, public officials, and the academic community for a discussion on health disparities across communities.”

The Public Forums will include a showing of “Place Matters” from the documentary, Unnatural Causes.

This is event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. The schedule for the CHE Public Forums on Health Inequity is as follows:


Tuesday, May 3, 2011, 6p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Bridgeport Public Main Library (Burroughs & Saden), Performing Arts Room, 925 Broad Street, Bridgeport, CT 06604


Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 6p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Hartford Public Library, 500 Main Street Hartford, CT 06103


Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 6p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – Waterbury, New Opportunities, Inc. 232 North Elm Street – Waterbury, CT 06702

In conjunction to the CHE Public Forums Health Justice CT — an innovative initiative designed to use social media channels for raising awareness about the issue of racial and ethnic disparities — will moderate a live Tweetchat during the event using hashtag #CHEmeeting.

The live “Tweetchat” will be held at each event and moderated by Health Justice CT. Participants can follow the discussion using the hashtag #CHEmeeting. Just go to and enter #CHEmeeting in the search box to follow the discussion. Questions and comments can be submitted directly to Health Justice CT (@healthjusticect) using your twitter account.

Also, TweetChat hosts free online discussion forums conducted via Twitter. To follow the discussion on TweetChat, please visit:

For more information about the Public Forum please contact Dr. Raja Staggers-Hakim at Raja.Staggers-Hakim(at)ct(dot)gov or call (860) 297-3847.

About Connecticut Commission on Health Equity (CHE):

The Connecticut Commission on Health Equity was established to eliminate disparities in health status based on race, ethnicity, gender and linguistic ability, thereby improving the quality of health for all of the state’s residents. For more information on CHE visit the website at:

About Health Justice CT:

Health Justice CT is an initiative designed to use social media channels as the foundation for creating a movement of Connecticut residents dedicated to working together to raise awareness about the issue of racial and ethnic disparities, find innovative solutions, and ultimately achieve health justice for everyone in Connecticut. The project is funded by the Connecticut Health Foundation ( and is being managed by the foundation’s grantee, the Society for New Communications Research ( To join the conversation, find us on Facebook ( and Twitter (


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