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African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities experience poorer health relative to national averages from birth to death-in the form of higher infant mortality, higher rates of disease and disability, and shortened life expectancy. These health inequities carry an enormous human and economic toll for the nation, and therefore have important consequences for all Americans. Some of these health inequities are related to inadequate access to health care and inequitable treatment in health care systems. Others stem from conditions in which people live, work, and play, and differences in neighborhood conditions.
In 2002, the Joint Center received a $7 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to establish the Health Policy Institute (HPI), a pioneering program of the Joint Center. Since then, the Kellogg Foundation has generously provided on-going support. In addition, HPI has attracted support from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The mission of HPI is to ignite and sustain a health equity movement that gives people of color an opportunity for healthy lives. HPI’s approach to eliminating health disparities involves identifying the complex underlying causes of health disparities and defining specific strategies to address them. Toward this end, HPI engages in many activities, including research and information dissemination; policy workshops, forums, and conferences; technical assistance for community-based organizations; media relations; and outreach to minority organizations. HPI’s research and policy work reaches out to a broad spectrum of audiences, including public officials, community leaders, and policy makers. HPI is also directed by a National Advisory Committee of recognized public officials, and leaders in the medical and public health fields.
HPI’s research, publications, activities, and projects are designed to accelerate progress beyond listing and analyzing a litany of health disparities. Rather, they are directed toward collective strategies that will produce real change—and real opportunities for health.