Government officials during the past 30 years often have not considered the specific needs of blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic and racial minorities in programs and materials related to preparedness for public health emergencies, according to a study published in the September/October issue of the journal Health Affairs, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
For the study, Dennis Andrulis, director of the Center for Health Equality at the Drexel University School of Public Health, and colleagues examined academic literature. The study found that, compared with whites, ethnic and racial minorities had fewer concerns about public health emergencies, were more skeptical of warnings, were less likely to evacuate, were less likely to receive education on preparedness, and relied more on television and family for information.
Researchers also reviewed 301 Web sites that provide information on preparedness for public health emergencies and found that only 12.6% considered the specific needs of ethnic and racial minorities.
The study cited the need to resolve language barriers, ensure that information on preparedness for public health emergencies addresses the specific needs of ethnic and racial minorities, coordinate government outreach and consider the needs of such individuals in federal and state preparedness plans.
According to the study, "The cost of inaction, as evidenced by the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, offers a graphic portrait of what happens when the unique needs of communities are not part of preparedness planning and execution."
Andrulis said, "They live among us, and there is crisscross, and ebb and flow among populations. Emergencies don't know geographical and ethnic boundaries. ... If you think you are a white person and don't need to be concerned about diverse populations being ready for an emergency, then you're fooling yourself," adding, "It can affect you".
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation