JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The federal Office of Public Health and Science has awarded the city of Jacksonville a $3,295,342 grant to improve the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.
U.S. Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) announced that the grant was awarded through the Office of Minority Health, an office within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and be used to increase access to culturally appropriate health information by activating health workers to connect directly with vulnerable populations. be used in the Duval County’s Health Zone 1.
“COVID-19 remains a dire threat to our health and public safety,” Lawson said. “The pandemic exposed inequities in our health care system, and educating the public is the best path forward to saving countless lives. Through this investment, we will bridge the divide in health resources across the Jacksonville community.”
Lawson said lower access to information about disease rates, testing, treatment and mitigating behavior, endangers Jacksonville’s most vulnerable citizens.
Health Zone 1 is located in Jacksonville’s urban core and experiences more acute levels of social vulnerability than other areas the city. Disproportionately, protective resources, including access to information about COVID-19, are scarce. The Florida Department of Health reported last week that more than 105,000 people in Duval County have been infected with the virus. More than 2,000 patients have been hospitalized in Jacksonville and nearly 1,500 deaths of residents had been reported when the state stopped reporting that data at the county level in early June.
“I think we really need to address vaccine hesitancy,” said Dr. Rodgers Cain, who is involved in several health advocacy groups including a statewide coalition of Black Physicians. “To be honest with you, the approach to this virus has been to politicized by a lot of different people and a lot of different groups and it has been taken away from the clinicians who really need to be the ones involved and getting their patients to come and get the vaccine.”
The Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida will lead the project and collaborate with the local health department and minority-serving institutions to implement the health literacy strategies. Partners include Edward Waters University, Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida, UF Health Jacksonville, Population Health Consortium and Duval Safety Net Collaborative.
The grant budget period is July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2023.