— an area with a diverse, largely African American and Hispanic population — which possesses a unique political, economic and social history setting it apart from the rest of New York City.
These historical characteristics have contributed to the poor health outcomes so common in this area. The systematic marginalization of black and brown people in the Bronx, extreme and persistent poverty, crime, drug abuse, gang violence, urban planning failures like the Bronx River Parkway that divide the borough, a fractured education system, and healthcare disparities have all contributed to the health conditions that Health People’s peer education model is designed to correct.
Encompassing the neighborhoods of Highbridge/Concourse, Morrisania/Crotona, Mott Haven/Melrose, Hunts Point/Longwood, Parkchester/Soundview and Port Morris, the South Bronx is the poorest urban Congressional district in the U.S.
Poverty makes it difficult to get good medical care, affordable housing and quality food, contributing to stress and anxiety, which is bad for health and can also lead to unhealthy habits like smoking and drug and alcohol use. Poor housing conditions are also linked to recurrent asthma attacks.
High levels of poverty go hand-in-hand with high levels of chronic disease. The Bronx has been the epicenter of the asthma (particularly for children), HIV, and drug epidemics and also has excess mortality rates from heart disease, stroke, and diabetes compared to citywide and national averages.
* Rank per population
With proper prevention and care — and appropriate programs in place — the cycle of poverty and ill health can be broken, and the impact of chronic diseases such as HIV, diabetes, and asthma can be significantly reduced. Sensitive, targeted outreach, intensive education programs, human support and peer strategies are crucial to improving self-care and prevention.