Science / Medicine : Treatable Ailments Kill Poor Blacks, Study Finds

Compiled from Staff and Wire Reports

Thousands of impoverished American blacks die in the prime of life from illnesses that could be cured or treated by routine medical care, a new report says.

The study in the International Journal of Epidemiology examined the number of Americans between the ages of 15 and 54 who died between 1980 and 1986 from a dozen disorders that normally are not lethal if treated early.

During that period, there were 121,560 premature deaths--almost 80% of them among blacks--related to the ailments, the study said. Only about 13% of the total U.S. population is black.

Among the illnesses examined were appendicitis, pneumonia, gall bladder infection, hypertensive heart disease, asthma and cervical cancer. Also included were tuberculosis, Hodgkin’s disease, rheumatic heart disease, acute respiratory disease, influenza and hernia.


“If detected early and quality treatment is provided, nobody should be dying of these things,” said Dr. Eugene Schwartz, an executive in the District of Columbia commission of public health and a co-author of the study. “Either they (patients) are not seeking the care, or they are being blocked from the care.”