New report grades the health of black males in Philadelphia

Close-up of African American female doctor measuring blood pressure of senior African American man at home

(Wavebreak Media Ltd/BigStock)

A just-released city study takes a look at the health of black men and boys in Philadelphia.

The report is the first of its kind to focus exclusively on that demographic group. Officials with the Department of Public Health and the Mayor’s Commission for African American Males looked at everything from asthma to homicide to stroke.

They found that the city’s black males have a shorter life expectancy than other demographic groups — 69.1 years, more than five years less than other men and 10 years less than women, the report says — driven down by heart disease, violence, and infant mortality.

But the report also notes that health-insurance coverage is at an all-time high, and that black boys showed the lowest rates of childhood obesity.

The full report, Brotherly Love: Health of Black Men and Boys in Philadelphia, is available for download. City epidemiologist Raynard Washington said the statistics are meant to serve as a kind of blueprint to direct resources.

“Black men represent 20 percent of the population in Philadelphia — that’s a large proportion, a large share of the population,” Washington said. “So really thinking about how do we ensure that there is a complete wraparound [of] both services as well as supports and opportunity for them is important.”

Washington will discuss the report Saturday at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in the city’s Mount Airy neighborhood, during a day-long men’s health event called “Know Your Numbers.”

Enon Tabernacle’s Rev. Leroy Miles, who is heading up Saturday’s event, said he hopes the report will encourage men to focus on their health.

“I think we operate in our silos and we can feel some of the effects, but to see it, uh, in a comprehensive report like this really drills down the importance of why if nothing else, if nothing else at the end of the day, we need to take care of ourselves physically,” Miles said.

The event, scheduled for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday,  will feature a range of free health screenings — blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, and prostate, among other tests — with doctors on hand to answer questions.

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