WASHINTON, D.C. — This week, the Biden Administration announced an effort to invest $250 million to encourage COVID-19 safety and vaccination among underserved populations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) will offer the funding as health literacy grants to localities, who will partner with community-based organizations, to reach racial and ethnic minority, rural and other vulnerable populations. The new initiative – Advancing Health Literacy to Enhance Equitable Community Responses to COVID-19 – is expected to fund approximately 30 projects in urban communities and 43 projects in rural communities for two years. Cities, counties, parishes or other similar subdivisions may apply for the funding.
Recipients are expected to develop a disparity impact statement using local data to identify racial and ethnic minority populations at highest risk for health disparities, low health literacy, and not being engaged or reached through existing public health messages and approaches for promoting COVID-19 public health recommendations. Then they will create and operationalize a health literacy plan, partnering with community-based organizations and adhering to culturally and linguistically appropriate standards, to increase the availability, acceptability and use of COVID-19 public health information and services by racial and ethnic minority populations and others considered vulnerable for not receiving and using COVID-19 public health information.
“Information is power, especially the ability to understand and use information to support better health. Whether it helps us understand where to get tested or the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine, information is a crucial part of keeping families and communities safe,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Health RADM Felicia Collins, MD. “Nowhere is this more important than in communities hit hardest by the pandemic, especially racial and ethnic minority communities and other vulnerable populations.”
Racial and ethnic minority populations experience higher rates of cases, hospitalizations and deaths related to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Social determinants of health, such as housing, education and work conditions, contribute to these disparities. Underlying chronic conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes and obesity, are more prevalent among minority populations and increase the risk of severe COVID-19 illness.
OMH will be accepting applications for this new initiative through April 20, 2021.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides public health and science advice to the Secretary, and oversees the Department’s broad-ranging public health offices, whose missions include minority health, HIV policy, women’s health, disease prevention, human research protections and others. OASH also includes the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps.
The Office of Minority Health is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.
For more information about the Office of Minority Health, visit: www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov.
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