Blue Cross, Seeds of Promise Partner to Tackle Health Disparities in African-American Community

For many Michiganders there is a massive gap somewhere between the dream and the reality of health care delivery.

The growing disparities in health across diverse communities was the center of attention at Let’s Talk Health, a recent gathering of people from health care organizations, human service agencies and community stakeholders that was sponsored by BCBSM and Seeds of Promise, a Grand Rapids-based advocacy organization.

Bridging the Access Gap

By now, many Americans recognize there’s a dangerous health gap that exists between different races. And many of those at the Grand Rapids gathering put some troubling specifics to the general unease about that gap. For instance, they know that:

  • If you’re African-American, you’re 70 percent more likely to develop diabetes.
  • The death rate for black infants is 2.3 times higher than that of white babies.
  • African-Americans, while 20 percent of the population, make up 55 percent of all HIV or AIDS cases.

Engaging Community in Better Health

At Let’s Talk Health, community and faith-based leaders, health care providers, and representatives from dozens of other groups spoke about community health status, access to care, and how to improve both.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan committed to help bridge the access gap and improve health for everyone throughout the state by bringing together community partners and developing strategies to address specific community needs.

Collaborating to Find Solutions

Here at Blue Cross, we are proud to partner with organizations like Seeds of Promise and champion the open dialogue that took place at the Let’s Talk Health event. Through our partnerships with community organizations and other strategic initiatives, we are working harder than ever to help increase the access and quality of health care throughout the state of Michigan for all of its residents.

Knowing the health disparities that exist in our state, where do you believe the solutions lie?

Photo Credit: cmh2315fl

Metro-Detroit’s African American Churches Compete For Wellness Grants in Our Body & Soul BLUE Walking Challenge

The African American church has always provided spiritual leadership, guidance and motivation to the community. In the Detroit-area thirteen churches are taking a stand and walking their way to a healthier lifestyle by competing in the Body & Soul BLUE wellness challenge, sponsored by American Cancer Society and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Health disparities in the African American community are significant:

  • 40 percent of African American men in Michigan will not live past their 65th birthday.
  • African American women are more likely to die from heart disease than women of other races.
  • African Americans of both genders are much more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic population.

Although the factors creating health disparities in this country are complex, walking is a safe and simple form of exercise that can improve your health, mood and level of fitness. Blue Cross walking advocate, Jodi Davis lost more than 160 pounds by adopting a healthy lifestyle that included a sensible diet and an exercise regimen consisting of a brisk, daily walk of 1.5 miles each day – and she has kept the weight off for nearly 10 years.

A walking exercise routine can help:

  • Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
  • Raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
  • Manage weight
  • Improve mood
  • Increase strength and fit

Source: The Mayo Clinic

With the U.S. spending more than ever on preventable health problems like those listed above, every step counts. Our Body & Soul BLUE challenge gives members of several metro-Detroit African American churches extra incentive to get moving by giving them grants to log the most walking miles of physical activity by the end of the 10-week period. Grant money is used to support health ministry efforts at the winning churches.

Personal Health Is Key to Community Health

The faith-based health and wellness challenge gives church leaders a chance to motivate their congregations to nurture their bodies, and their souls. A combination of pastoral leadership, educational activities, and the family environment of the church helps congregations make healthier nutrition and lifestyle choices.

Are you involved in a walking or exercise program? What kind of physical activity do you do to stay healthy and fit?

To learn more about the Body & Soul BLUE challenge, watch a video from last year’s challenge in Grand Rapids, Michigan below:

Photo Credit: Nick Harris 1