PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
March 30, 2012

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Health Equity Summit Highlights Month-Long Series of Events
For National and State Minority and Multicultural Health Month

Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd will discuss the Department's efforts to reduce health disparities Monday, April 2 in Hamilton during a Health Equity Summit that marks the beginning of a month-long series of health fairs and wellness programs for national and state Minority and Multicultural Health Month.

The summit, entitled Health Equity for All...think Nationally, Act Locally, is designed to help communities, providers, practitioners and government take action in their communities by identifying strategies to move the state toward its goal of eliminating health disparities and achieving health equity for all residents.   

The summit will feature 10 physicians and other health experts who will address topics including health literacy, improving access to care, achieving health equity in an urban setting and educating clinicians to provide culturally competent, patient-centered care. The summit will be held from 9 am to 5 pm in the RWJ Hamilton Center for Health and Wellness. It is sponsored by the Department's Office of Minority and Multicultural Health, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. Commissioner O'Dowd will deliver remarks at 9:30 am.

"During the Department's first ever Health Equity Summit, working with community partners, we will share best practices, look at innovative approaches, and develop strategies to reduce health disparities in diverse communities," Commissioner O'Dowd said.

During Minority Health Month, the Department's Office of Minority and Multicultural Health highlights health issues and disparities which occur within the racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse communities of New Jersey.   New Jersey health care providers, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, academic institutions and other community level partners sponsor events throughout the month that promote good health. Events held across the state include educational sessions, health screenings and fitness classes.

Commissioner O'Dowd, Deputy Commissioner Dr. Arturo Brito, Assistant Commissioners and Office of Minority & Multicultural Health Director Carolyn Daniels will attend events around the state to highlight the need for health equity as well as the work of community health centers and other grantees.

"As we celebrate April as Minority Health Month, the Department reaffirms its commitment to creating an inclusive health system that treats all people equitably - and one where all New Jerseyans can achieve optimal health," said Commissioner O'Dowd. 

For the first time in 2012, the Department is recognizing National Minority Health Month in April to coincide with the National Office of Minority Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' celebration. In the past, the Department has celebrated this event in September.

"The Department encourages New Jersey residents to attend events so they can take advantage of health screening and learn strategies for improving their health," added Commissioner O'Dowd. "Even small changes in a person's lifestyle can make a big difference in their overall health and improve their quality of life."

A complete listing of statewide events is available at www.nj.gov/health/omh.