Marshall Discusses Minority Health

Victoria Ware, Reporter

Raising awareness about racial health disparities and supplying COVID-19 vaccines are the purposes of the National Minority Health Month Celebration at the Memorial Student Center Plaza on Thursday.  

“This is the first year that Marshall University’s Minority Health Institute has had this National Minority Health Month,” LaDawna Walker-Dean, the Program Coordinator of the Marshall University Minority Health Institute, said.  

“April is National Minority Health Month and this year the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health and its partners are highlighting the important role individuals and organizations can play in helping to reduce health disparities and improve the health of racial and ethnic minorities.” 

“We have roughly over 17 vendors around Huntington and of course Marshall University’s departments will be participating in this fun event—with the theme ‘Give Your Community a Boost,” Walker-Dean said. 

The event will be geared toward improving vaccination rates among racial and ethnic minorities 

“Data shows that some racial and ethnic minority groups—particularly Black/African American, Hispanic, Latino, [Native American] and Alaska Native people-are at an increased risk of getting sick and having more severe illness and dying from COVID-19,” Walker-Dean said. 

“This theme ‘Give Your Community a Boost’ basically supports other efforts happening in the communities across the country to advance health equity because in this area alone only 15 percent of African Americans and minorities are vaccinated,” Walker-Dean said. 

At the event people will have the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or be tested. 

“So, basically next week we hope to have minority students come out and get vaccinated if they have not already done so,” Walker-Dean said, “We’ll have gifts and prizes available for people to draw their names if they come and stop by this event.” 

“It’s just basically supporting the National Minority Health Month theme of ‘Give Your Community a Boost.’” Walker-Dean said, “Hopefully we’ll get more people out there that are vaccinated—if not, if they haven’t been tested, they can be tested at this event as well.” 

“The theme is for continued importance of COVID-19 vaccinations including boosters,” Walker-Dean said, “So we want to inform the community of the health disparities and to hopefully improve the health of racial and ethnic minorities in West Virginia.” 

Walker-Dean said the conversation surrounding minority health disparities is an uneasy one to have. She said that the term “minority” does not only apply to people of color. 

“I think we first need to start talking about it. It’s an uncomfortable conversation because people in West Virginia—when they think of ‘minority’ they assume it’s African American/Black,” Walker-Dean said, “So, I do listening tours around the state of West Virginia and I always educate everyone that a minority is just not African American/Black.”  

“A minority is the LGBTQ+ population,” Walker-Dean said, “It’s the elderly population. It’s the disabled population. So, I want to get that in people’s minds that it’s just not geared towards people of color. It’s geared towards other under-served populations in West Virginia.”