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Medical Reserve Corps: Building Bridges to Promote Health Security for Every Community

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 4/19/2017 4:41:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

Did you know that your zip code can be a predictor of your health? So can your place of birth, where you work and play, your income and education, as well as the choices you make each day about what you eat, when to exercise, and whether or not to see a doctor. These factors, recognized by public health professionals as social determinants of health, are linked to inequities in health and healthcare (health disparities) that disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities in America.

April is National Minority Health Month and it is a great time to pause and consider ways that we can bridge health equity gaps in our communities.  As more people in our communities become healthy, we become more resilient in the face of a disaster and increase our national health security.

But how can we reach people in other communities?  What can we do to decrease health disparities?

We can start by volunteering.  The Medical Reserve Corps works in communities across the country to help people become healthier and stronger, and many of the MRC’s programs have focused on helping people in minority communities.

Here are a few examples of MRC programs that embody the spirit of National Minority Health Month and support achievement of OMH’s vision:

  • Chicago Familia Latina Unida MRC (Illinois) – The Chicago Familia Latina Unida MRC recruits and trains volunteers to work at prevention information and screening workshops with an aim of reducing and eliminating the 20-year life expectancy gap that exists between many Chicago neighborhoods and the national average. To accomplish this, volunteers are educated in topics including nutrition, exercise, hypertension, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and cancers. They are also trained to screen for these diseases and bring their skills back to their neighborhoods to increase early detection. The program specifically targets the Latino population of these neighborhoods.
  • Capitol City Pharmacy MRC (Washington, D.C.) – CCPMRC’s PrepareDC outreach initiative affects thousands of D.C. residents every year through emergency preparedness and community resilience outreach opportunities. This past February, the unit promoted Heart Health Month, recognizing major cardiovascular disease risk factor differences and the large gap in diagnosis and treatment access amongst minority communities. The CCPMRC helped spread awareness of heart disease throughout D.C. neighborhoods, promoting high-quality care to residents in need.
  • Native Health Initiative MRC and Bosque School Jr. MRC (New Mexico) – These two units partnered to host the first ever Gratitude Run/Walk on Thanksgiving Day 2016 as part of their ongoing  efforts to reduce obesity and improve health outcomes for the Native American population. Over 400 people participated in this collaborative health and wellness event, which also raised donations for families in need and Running Medicine, a family-oriented fitness program of the Native Health Initiative.

Ready to start decreasing health disparities in your community? Chances are good that you can find an MRC unit near you!  The MRC network comprises close to 1,000 community-based units and almost 200,000 volunteers throughout the U.S., including people with medical, public health, and healthcare backgrounds.  To find a unit in your area or to learn more, visit mrc.hhs.gov.


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