The term "health disparities" refers to the unequal distribution of health, illness, disease, suffering and death by social status, where social status includes race/ethnicity, sex/gender, socioeconomic status, geographical region, and other factors. Eastern North Carolina (ENC) refers to the 41 counties east of Route 95 (pink areas). ENC-41 refers to all 41 counties, whereas ENC-29 refers to the 29 northeastern counties (dark pink).
ENC exhibits many health disparities: Health in ENC is significantly poorer than health in the rest of North Carolina, and health in the ENC-29 is poorest of all. Mortality (death) rates from cancers, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are far higher in the ENC-41 and ENC-29 than elsewhere in the NC, and prevalence rates of diabetes, obesity, cancers and cardiovascular diseases are higher in ENC as well. These regional differences hold across race/ethnicity, income, and education: Health for all racial/ethnic groups, and for all income and education groups is poorer in ENC than in the rest of North Carolina.
The mission of the East Carolina University (ECU) Center for Health Disparities (CHD) is to reduce health disparities in the eastern North Carolina (ENC) region through research, education and training, and community projects. The Center's faculty, staff, and community members work to reduce disparities in obesity, diabetes, cancers, and cardiovascular disease among the rural, ethnic-minority, and low socioeconomic populations of ENC.