germaine-smith-baugh_web.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — A recent report on the state of black health in Broward County revealed startling statistics in the disparities between blacks and other ethnicities regarding maternal, infant and child health; health and nutrition, disease prevention, and health equity.

According to the report, infant mortality rates among blacks are three times higher when compared to those of non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics. Nearly three times as many non-Hispanic black teens give birth each year compared to non-Hispanic white and Hispanic teens. Children born to teenage mothers are more likely to undergo health problems due to the mother’s lack of education.

The report also said that death rates from HIV/AIDS-related diseases are six times higher among African Americans than non-Hispanic whites and Hispanics.

Dubbed “Closing The Gap,” the report was prepared by the Urban League of Broward County and released during a Jan. 31 media conference that took place at the Community Empowerment Center, 560 N.W. 27th Ave. in unincorporated Fort Lauderdale.

The rate of obesity is two-times higher among black teens (53.1 percent) than that of their non-Hispanic white (32.1 percent) and Hispanic (23.5 percent) peers, said Danielle Doss-Brown, ULBC research and evaluation manager and the report’s editorial director.

“If you couple things like diabetes with the poverty level and access to healthy food, you’ll notice that in the 33311 zip code area, the diabetes rates are 200 times higher when looked at from a geographical perspective from other areas in Broward County,” Doss-Brown said.

Blacks comprise about 26 percent of Broward County’s population yet account for 33 percent of the uninsured, according to the report. Blacks are twice as likely not to visit a doctor because of costs and Hispanics three times as likely, when compared to whites.

“The report is intended to provide data on what the Urban League knows and what many of us know anecdotally about the disparities that exist between blacks and other ethnicities in one easy-to-read document,” said Germaine Smith-Baugh, ULBC president and CEO.

Doss-Brown said that there were “three main objectives” in creating the report: to provide data and information on the most pressing health disparities faced in Broward County, to establish a baseline on moving forward, measure the trends, and  illicit a call for action.

Much of the data used to compile the report was provided by ULBC partners including the Broward Regional Health Planning Council, Florida Charts database and Sunshine Health, Doss-Brown said.

“When we look at the factors that affect our health such as education, economics and housing, it is clear that we have to work comprehensively to address family and community issues,” Smith-Baugh said.

“We have to figure out what our action steps are going to be collectively as a community.”

The solution is not “one size fits all,” Smith-Baugh continued. “A comprehensive holistic approach to developing families is what is necessary. And we have an obligation to bring as many resources to this community as we possibly can.”

Cynthia Roby may be reached at