Arizona College of Public Health Receives $6 Million Grant to Eliminate Health Disparities Among American Indians and Hispanics

Arizona College of Public Health Receives $6 Million Grant

Arizona College of Public Health Receives $6 Million Grant to Eliminate Health Disparities Among American Indians and Hispanics

The Mel and Enid Zuckerman Arizona College of Public Health has received a $6 million grant from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health, to establish the Arizona EXPORT* Center, which will focus on reducing health disparities among American Indians and Hispanics in two areas: diabetes and substance abuse. This is one of the largest grants ever received by the College and the UA that addresses minority health disparities.
"This federally funded program is an excellent example of how community members can collaborate with University researchers," says Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and a strong advocate for the elimination of health disparities throughout the state. "What makes this program remarkable is its multifaceted approach that will encourage the participation of minorities in addressing their own health issues."

The Arizona EXPORT Center will bring together community representatives and public health professionals from the Arizona College of Public Health, the Mexican American Studies and Research Center, the Native American Research and Training Center and the UA Graduate College.

"The community component of this program will play a central role in identifying solutions to these prevalent health issues, in disseminating research data and providing a feedback loop involving the communities, researchers and educators," explains G. Marie Swanson, PhD, MPH, Dean of the Arizona College of Public Health and principal investigator on the grant. "Our ultimate goal is to collaborate with the communities to help eliminate the rising trends of diabetes and substance abuse among these populations in a culturally sensitive manner."

The 1999 Arizona Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS), which provides measures of health disparities for Hispanics and American Indians-the two highest risk populations in Arizona-defines Hispanics in Arizona at highest risk of diabetes (10.6 percent), being overweight (30.9 percent), and having low fruit and vegetable consumption (81.6 percent) and it defines American Indians at highest risk of being a current smoker (25.2 percent), engaging in binge drinking (21.7 percent), and drinking and driving (4 percent). However, mortality data for Arizona also show that Native Americans have the highest death rate due to diabetes (74.6 per 100,000 population), nearly twice the death rate for diabetes among Hispanics (41.1 per 100,000). The death rate due to diabetes among all Arizonans is just 19 per 100,000.

"This center is representative of the University of Arizona's commitment to the health of communities throughout the state as well as our focus on diversity," says UA President Peter Likins, PhD. "It will not only involve university members working with the communities, but also bring into the university members of these communities so that they can be part of the solution where they live."

The center will be comprised of three major core components: Research, Community Outreach and Information Dissemination (COID), and Training. The research core will conduct, coordinate and foster health disparities research on the unique needs and challenges of the Mexican American and American Indian communities in Arizona. The COID core will develop and disseminate culturally sensitive health information, encourage and equip the community for participation in clinical studies and in prevention activities; and sponsor science education outreach. The training core will encourage awareness of these health disparities among public health and other health professions students, as well as increase the participation and enrollment of minority students to address these disparities. In addition, there will be an Administrative and a Shared Resources component.

The University of Arizona ranks among the top universities in the country for number of graduate degrees conferred to minorities. In 2001, the National Research Council ranked UA fifth in the number of doctoral degrees conferred to Hispanics and third in the number of doctoral degrees conferred to American Indians.

Note to Assignment Editors: Although the activities on the grant have not officially started, many community collaborations exist that served as the basis for receiving the grant. These collaborations illustrate the potential benefits of the grant. Examples include:

  • Border Health Strategic Initiative (Border Health ¡SI!) - In response to the health risks posed by diabetes in border communities, faculty, staff and students are working with U.S.-Mexico border communities to enhance prevention and control of this disease. Border Health ¡SI! provides direct services to border residents, trains health professionals and lay educators, and encourages permanent lifestyle changes that save countless medical treatment dollars later on. Today, almost every family in these communities is affected by diabetes. Through the efforts of this project, Yuma and Santa Cruz county communities are encouraged to engage in physical activity and healthy eating, which have long been proven to help prevent diabetes and complications related to diabetes. Activities include free patient education classes; working closely with families to improve communication and identify ways to support each other in changing eating habits and engaging in recreational activities; and coordinating walking and nutrition clubs.
  • Partners in Native American Public Health - These partnerships, which have focused on the development of new programs or on building the capacity of existing tribal health-promotion and disease-prevention programs, have addressed a wide range of public health issues. Faculty at the Arizona College of Public Health have provided service and/or have collaborated in the development of programs that address diabetes prevention and self-management, diabetes and psychiatric co-morbidity, childhood growth and development, tobacco use prevention, and school-based health promotion specifically related to healthy food choices and physical activity.
  • Community Health Advancement Partnerships (CHAPS) - This joint venture with the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences combined the health education and promotion expertise of the Arizona College of Public Health with the community-based leadership of the Cooperative Extension Service and its county agents. An example of their successful programs includes "Yuma on the Move," a physical activity initiative designed and implemented by a community coalition in Yuma County.

Established by the Arizona Board of Regents in January 2000, the Mel and Enid Zuckerman Arizona College of Public Health is the first public health college in the four corner states and represents a tri-university collaboration among the University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University. The Arizona College of Public Health's mission is to promote the health of individuals and communities with a special emphasis on diverse populations and the Southwest. Programs concentrate on the reduction of health disparities, the development and maintenance of healthy communities, and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.

* EXPORT = Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, Research on Health Disparities and Training.