March Health Equity Link

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HHS Office of Minority Health


March 2024  |  View as a webpage

Health Equity Link

In this Issue

National Kidney Month


March is National Kidney Month, a time to raise awareness about kidney health, chronic kidney disease, and the structural inequities in kidney care, dialysis, and transplantation.

Among the most affected are Black/African American individuals, who face significant disparities in kidney health compared to non-Hispanic whites. Black and African Americans are four times more likely to develop kidney failure, representing 35% of those on dialysis but only 13% of the U.S. population. Despite this, Black and African Americans are less likely to receive a kidney transplant.

These disparities stem from historical inequalities and inequities. Some people, especially those living in under-resourced communities, lack access to affordable, healthy foods; reliable transportation; and consistent, high-quality preventative care. Discrimination and biases, including those from healthcare professionals, also play a role in determining the quality of kidney care individuals receive.

Preventing kidney failure begins with understanding your risk. This March, the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) urges healthcare professionals and community leaders to join their mission to achieve KIDNEY EQUITY FOR ALL™ by sharing NKF’s Minute for Your Kidneys Quiz to help more people learn about their kidney disease risk and what steps to take next. 

Download NKF’s National Kidney Month Toolkit to spread awareness about kidney health through English and Spanish flyers, social media posts, and other resources. Download the OMH Knowledge Center’s Kidney Health Disparities in Racial and Ethnic Minorities Reading List. This brief bibliography contains resources and health materials focused on kidney health, kidney disease, and kidney transplants in racial and ethnic minority populations.

World Kidney Day (March 14)

In addition to National Kidney Month, celebrate World Kidney Day on March 14. This day aims to raise awareness of the importance of our kidneys to our overall health and to reduce the frequency and impact of kidney disease and its associated health problems worldwide.

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Women's History Month

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March is Women’s History Month, a month-long observance commemorating and encouraging the study, observance, and celebration of the vital role of women in U.S. history.

Every year the National Women’s History Alliance designates a theme for Women’s History Month. This year’s theme, Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, celebrates and recognizes women who understand the need to eliminate bias and discrimination from individuals’ lives and institutions.

OMH encourages you to learn about women’s health efforts across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of Women's Health (OWH) promotes public health research and evidence-based programs, policies, and strategies to improve the health and well-being of women and girls and raises visibility of risk factors and other conditions that impact women and girls’ health.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) strengthens and enhances research related to diseases, disorders, and conditions that affect women.

To learn how HHS has taken action to advance health equity and improve health outcomes for women and girls in the United States, read the Report of the Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health: Fiscal years 2021-2022. This report from NIH ORWH details the NIH-wide programs conducted to fulfill ORWH’s core mission and their accomplishments.

International Women's Day (March 8)

International Women’s Day (IWD), on March 8, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, and marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality. Download the free toolkit and resources for an impactful #IWD2024.

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (March 10)

The HHS Office on Women’s Health (OWH) addresses critical women’s health issues by informing and advancing policies, educating healthcare professionals and consumers, and supporting innovative programs. OWH is leading National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NWGHAAD) on March 10 and this year’s theme is Prevention and Testing at Every Age. Care and Treatment at Every Stage. Learn more about what every woman needs to know about HIV.

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National Nutrition Month


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ National Nutrition Month campaign invites everyone to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits. This year's theme is Beyond the Table, which addresses food production and distribution, navigating grocery stores and farmers markets, and sustainability efforts like decreasing food waste.

Most people in the United States don’t eat a healthy diet and consume too much sodium, saturated fat, and sugar, increasing their risk of chronic diseases. Fewer than 1 in 10 adolescents and adults eat enough fruits or vegetables. In addition, 20% of young people aged 2 to 19 years and 42% of adults have obesity, which can put them at risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.

Lack of access to these nutritious foods may have a greater impact on racial and ethnic minority communities, residents of low-income communities, and those living in rural areas, especially older adults.  

In 2020, non-Hispanic Black households were over 2 times more likely to be food insecure than the national average. Predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods tend to have fewer full-service supermarkets than predominantly white and non-Hispanic neighborhoods. Adults and children who experience food insecurity may be at an increased risk for a variety of negative health outcomes including obesity. Reduced frequency, quality, variety, and quantity of consumed foods can also have a negative effect on children’s mental health.

Along with eating well, regular physical activity improves overall health and prevents diseases. Check out these 50 Ideas to Get Involved in National Nutrition Month and physical activity guidelines from the HHS Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Move Your Way® campaign and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

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National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month


Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the United States. One in 24 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime. Every March, the Colorectal Cancer Alliance spotlights this disease with National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and inspires more people to get checked starting at age 45

Black and African American people have higher rates of getting and dying from many kinds of cancer and are more likely than white people to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer at a late stage. In 2020, non-Hispanic Black people had the highest rate of new colorectal cancer cases compared to all other racial ethnic groups.

Besides age, lifestyle factors are among the main risk factors for colorectal cancer. Obesity is one of the many lifestyle factors associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

Find out how your dietary decisions and daily habits could be putting you at risk and discover how easy it is to make healthy changes. The American Institute for Cancer Research’s latest report on colorectal cancer found that eating fiber-rich foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk. Read the full report to learn about how you may be increasing your risk.

Screening for colorectal cancer is the best way to prevent colon cancer and rectal cancer. Screening can find the warning signs of colon and rectal cancer and can also find colorectal cancer early when treatment is most effective. You can raise awareness about colorectal cancer and the importance of getting checked. Download the Alliance's March Awareness Toolkit for resources to increase colorectal cancer awareness and prevention in March.

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HHS Actions to Slow Surging Syphilis Epidemic


In response to the surging number of syphilis and congenital syphilis cases nationwide, HHS is taking action to slow the spread with a focus on those most significantly impacted. Through the establishment of the National Syphilis and Congenital Syphilis Syndemic (NSCSS) Federal Task Force, HHS is utilizing its agencies, expertise, and stakeholder network to respond to the U.S. syphilis and congenital syphilis epidemic.

The group’s mission is to leverage broad federal resources to reduce rates, promote health equity, and share resources with impacted communities.

While the syphilis epidemic touches nearly every community, some racial and ethnic groups are more impacted due to longstanding social inequities that often lead to health disparities. Cases in nearly every demographic group and region have increased, as have disparities in the burden of disease among certain racial and ethnic populations.

According to a CDC report, 207,255 total syphilis cases were reported in the United States in 2022, representing an 80% increase since 2018. Despite comprising 13% of the U.S. population and 14% of live births, Black or African American people represented nearly 32% of all primary and secondary syphilis cases and experienced about 30% of congenital syphilis cases in 2022.

Primary and secondary and congenital syphilis rates were highest among American Indian or Alaska Native people —comparable to rates from the pre-penicillin era when syphilis was difficult to cure. For every 155 American Indian and Alaska Native births in 2022, there was one congenital syphilis case.

Listen to the latest episode of the Labor of Love Podcast from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. This podcast explores emerging challenges in maternal and postpartum health. In this episode, host Dr. Veronica Pimentel and guests Kate Miele, MD and Veronica Gillispie-Bell, MD, discuss syphilis screening during pregnancy, the latest clinical recommendations, and tips and tools that health care professionals can use to address concerns and anxieties with clarity and compassion.  

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OMH Knowledge Center

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In recognition of Women's History Month, the OMH Knowledge Center is featuring a collection of journal articles related to women's health in racial and ethnic minority communities. The collection explores topics such as women's health literacy, racial and ethnic disparities in cancer care and outcomes, and health equity during pregnancy and childbirth. These resources are available to read online for free.

You can access this collection through the OMH Knowledge Center online catalog.

Looking for more information on a topic included in this collection? View our search tips page for guidance on searching the online catalog.

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