About Texas Conference on Health Disparities (TCHD)

There are striking disparities in health status, access to health care and risk factors between the racial and ethnic minorities and the general population in Texas. Texas Hispanics and African Americans have a 2.5-fold higher death rate from diabetes than non-Hispanic whites, nearly 2-fold higher death rate from cardiovascular diseases, and nearly 2-fold increase in death from Cancer. Coupled with these increased disease rates, the minority population in Texas has surpassed the non-Hispanic population in 2004, and the minority population is projected to increase substantially in the coming years. Texas is one of only four states in the US where non-Hispanic whites are in the minority. The Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) "Metroplex" refers to Dallas, Fort Worth, and the dozens of lesser municipalities around and between them. The Metroplex is the nation's fourth largest metropolitan area, is home to over seven million residents, and more than two million of them are first- and second-generation Americans. The Greater Dallas Area is considered an "Immigrant Gateway" and is a popular destination for Mexican workers and their families, who have more than doubled during the past 10 years. The population of Dallas is about 1.3 million, with 45% Hispanic, 24% African-American and 57% non-Hispanic Caucasian. Similarly, Fort Worth has a population of 918,055, of whom approximately 35% are Hispanic and 18% are African-American. Approximately one-sixth of Dallas and Fort Worth residents live under and one-third live just above the federal poverty line. 

Health disparities also result from lack of minority health care professionals, low health literacy, lack of training of health professionals in combating these disparities and unequal exposures to environmental risks. According to the Texas State Data Center (www.txsdc.tamu.edu), by the year 2040 Texas will need over 350,000 Health Professionals including physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, optometrists, veterinarians and podiatrists, of which nearly 180,000 will be serving the non-white Texas population. In 2000, there were only 41,000 health professionals serving these populations. Thus, there is an urgent need to train a large number of health professionals to serve the minority population in Texas in the near future. Additionally, training all health professionals in recognizing health disparities and educating minority populations regarding the risk factors would greatly alleviate the health disparities that exist currently and are expected to grow in the near future. 

In 2005, The National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD, renamed NIMHD) awarded the UNT Health Science Center a Center of Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, Research on Health Disparities and Training (EXPORT). The UNTHSC established the TCHD http://www.hsc.unt.edu/HealthDisparities. To date, TCHD is the only NIMHD Center of Excellence in Texas and one of twelve in the U.S. The TCHD mission is executed by 5 main objectives supported by three main cores: Research Core, Training Core and Outreach Core. The objectives of TCHD are: 

  • To foster existing relationships and develop new relationships with URM institutions as partners; 
  • To conduct research on health disparity areas that exists in Texas minorities such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, stroke and HIV; 
  • Provide unique opportunities for minority students and faculty from URM institutions in health disparity research; 
  • Promote education of students in health professions, health care practitioners and policy makers on the existence of health disparities and the need to combat the problem; and 
  • Serve as a resource for the minority communities to disseminate health information, promote community participation in health education and research, and to implement disease prevention activities. 

The annual Texas Conference on Health Disparities, in its nineteen years, serves as the central advocate of TCHD's efforts in reducing health disparities in our community and the U.S. 

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