News Release
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   April 4, 2001

Christine Grant

For Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg or Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160


New Jersey Hosts First National Summit on
Nutrition, Breastfeeding and Cultural Competency

NEW BRUNSWICK- New Jersey Commissioner of Health and Senior Services Christine Grant today challenged health care providers, community leaders, educators and government officials from around to the country to develop new and innovative programs to break down cultural barriers to improve rates of breastfeeding and nutrition in women.

Commissioner Grant asked the more than 500 participants attending the first national summit to focus on nutrition and breastfeeding as a means of eliminating racial disparities in health status. The historic summit runs today through Saturday (April 4-6) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick.

"Although the elimination of racial disparities in health is one of the goals of Healthy People 2010 (the federal government's report outlining the nation's health goals), the role of nutrition and breastfeeding have not been given the attention they deserve," Grant said. "Addressing these issues will broaden the scope of strategies available to health care providers. We look forward to working with all levels of government, health care, and the community to break down the barriers that lead to poorer health for some racial groups."

The Summit features nationally known speakers representing federal agencies, several state departments of health, academic institutions, health care providers, advocacy organizations and professional associations.

Attached is a copy of the Commissioner's remarks.

Commissioner Christine Grant
Breastfeeding, Nutrition and Cultural Competency Summit
Charge to Participants
April 4, 2001
Hyatt Hotel, New Brunswick

This summit is off to a terrific start. Our keynote's points about racial disparities certainly has built a foundation for discussion that we can build on and continue over the next few days.

In a few minutes, we'll be taking our first break of the day. But before you go, I would like to leave you with some thoughts:

We have an extremely important task ahead of us in the next few days. We are here to create a national agenda for change in this country. One which will change the way we acknowledge and address the role of nutrition, breastfeeding and cultural competency in the elimination of racial disparities in health throughout this country.

We come here today, excited about creating new opportunities to facilitate the elimination of racial disparities in health.

We come as physicians, nurses, dieticians, nutritionists, health care advocates, lactation professionals, WIC Directors and staff to make a difference. We come as educators, policy makers, researchers, administrators, community leaders and health educators and most importantly as consumers.

We in this room are the ones who can change the way we address and deliver health care in this country. We have the ability to address in our professional capacities how we can incorporate nutritional and breastfeeding information, support or services into our strategies to eliminate racial disparities in health and provide culturally competent services.

Over the next three days, we can accomplish the following:

  • We need to examine and change how health care is delivered in your practices, hospitals and health care facilities. To Address the health care provider- client interaction, facility design, staffing, workforce relations, policy and procedures, data collection, service evaluation and monitoring.

  • We need to design services that are equitable and accessible.

  • Refine and revise how we teach our students about health care, nutrition and breastfeeding.

  • Identify methods by which organizations can implement plans that will attain Healthy 2010 objectives on breastfeeding and nutrition and related chronic diseases.

  • Define our own research agendas to acknowledge and respect the population on which we are conducting our research.

This includes creative data collection methods to capture culturally sensitive information, evaluation methods and tools to measure and track attainment of the elimination of racial disparities as defined in the Healthy 2010 objectives.

  • Provide opportunities for networking, mentoring and recruitment of individuals from diverse communities into the fields of nutrition and breastfeeding.

  • Acknowledge and understand the role that civil right laws and mandates have on the provision of services and how we can facilitate equity in treatment for all our patients and clients.

  • Begin to develop model strategies that impact on the prevention of chronic diseases and address racial disparities of health through nutrition and breastfeeding interventions, in our communities, which will acknowledge and be sensitive to the diverse populations we serve.

  • Develop culturally appropriate marketing and outreach methods which will foster the understanding in communities of color, the importance of good nutrition and breastfeeding.

  • Utilize or create community coalitions and collaboratives between public and private entities that will take advantage of the full resources available in our communities to improve the nutritional and health status of their members.

Naturally, these changes cannot happen overnight. But this week will start the journey.

Over the next few days we will begin a two-year process to create a nationwide agenda to eliminate racial disparities in health utilizing the powerful tools of nutrition and breastfeeding services, promotion and support.

We will learn more about, and synthesize information about the elements of racial disparities in health; culturally and linguistically appropriate services: civil rights laws, including new policies on language assistance; and about the new Health and Human Services Blueprint for Breastfeeding.

We will learn about specific issues of interest in your workshops. At these workshops we will have the opportunity to discuss and debate with your colleagues and the faculty key issues of importance.

On the third day, in the action-planning portion of the Summit we will have the opportunity to develop action plans for states and other entities to influence change in policy, programmatic and administrative initiatives. This will facilitate the elimination of racial disparities in health through breastfeeding, nutrition, and cultural competency.

Participants will be directed to identifying supporting evidence for these recommendations and describe potential challenges to implementation.

We will formulate measurable objectives to accomplish in the next two years, strategies to eliminate racial disparities in health and creating an action plan to reach these objectives.

We will collaborate with states, our stakeholders and other key entities to develop a process to reach our objectives.

This is ambitious agenda; but it is achievable. Now it's time to get to work.

Thank you.

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