Black men have the lowest life expectancy of any racial or ethnic group in Philadelphia, according to a report released by city health officials this week.
On average, Black men live 69.1 years, which is five years less than the average of other men and 10 years less than the average of other women, according to the report called “Brotherly Love: Health of Black Men and Boys in Philadelphia.”
Homicide is a leading cause of death for young Black men ages 15 to 34. Nearly 75 percent of all victims and known perpetrators are young Black men.
Meanwhile, hypertension and related illnesses such as kidney disease, and strokes impact Black men earlier and more often than other racial groups. Asthma is a significant source of morbidity for Black boys, as hospitalizations for asthma are nearly nine times higher compared to white boys.
“Black men and boys have been experiencing disparate health outcomes for quite some time and in many areas we are seeing some improvements, “ said Dr. Raynard Washington, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s chief epidemiologist.
“In some ways, things are improving for Black men and boys, but there is still a gap between their health outcomes and others.”
Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said in a news release, “The first step to solving any problem is drawing attention to it.
“The Brotherly Love report shows that, while Philadelphia has many initiatives to promote health, African American men are still not as healthy as other demographic groups and not as healthy as they could be. We look forward to working with other city agencies and external partners to develop a more focused approach to solving that approach.”
The report recommends strengthening the city’s educational and health care safety nets, promoting and reducing structural deterrents to healthy living and combating poverty, community violence and racism. While initiatives to address many of these areas are already under way in the city, public and private stakeholders will convene this year to develop an action plan for improving the lives of Black men and boys in the city.
The report also honed in on some positive outcomes. For instance, school-aged Black male youth have the lowest rates of obesity compared to other racial/ethnic groups. Health insurance coverage among Black Philadelphians is at an all-time high with 90 percent of Black adults having health insurance and more than 96 percent of Black children having health coverage. And unemployment and poverty rates are declining, while high school, college and graduate school graduation rates are increasing among Black men.
The report also highlights notable Black men from Philadelphia, who while dealing with many of the same health-related issues afflicting men throughout the city, have worked individually or with various organizations to improve their own health and the circumstances of other Black men and boys.
The report was developed by the Department of Public Health, the Mayor’s Office of Black Male Engagement and the Mayor’s Commission for African American Males.