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San Francisco Health Network

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Our Programs

Community Health Promotion & Prevention

African American Health Initiative (Health Promotion)

The African American Health Initiative (AAHI) was created to address the significantly poorer health status and health outcomes disproportionately affecting the African American community. The most recent review of premature mortality for San Francisco residents continues to show increased years of lost life for African Americans in every disease or condition leading to death. Outcome disparities occurred in ischemic heart disease, stroke, cancers (lung, colorectal, and breast cancers), diabetes mellitus, hypertensive heart disease, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, hypertension, drug poisoning (substance abuse) and violence (community, domestic and family); other reports show disparities in mental health and stress, and other factors related to environmental injustice (including acts of racism). A 1999 Health Commission Resolution noted these disparities and launched the African American Health Initiative.

The Initiative has had several strains of work over time and initially received a California Endowment grant for community capacity building. Following the example of the AAHI, the San Francisco Hospital Council initiated several projects focused on improving access and health care for African Americans. The Initiative is distinguished from other departmental programs that address African American health, by its focus on capacity building of community leaders through an African American Health Equity Council, a community-based policy/action agenda (in development) and work toward elimination of institutional racism. As well, Health Promotion staff provide analysis of African American health for community groups.

Related to the AAHI:
The Community Programs Division is supporting a community-based African American health leaders’ planning effort to establish recommendations for the community and the Department to consider for improving the health of African Americans and other groups. Community Programs is completing a Division-wide health equity plan that addresses the health of African Americans. The framework for this proposed work parses the causes of poor health and disparities into the categories of social inequities, institutional power, neighborhood conditions and risk behaviors. A draft plan should be ready in the late Fall of 2008.