Racial disparities in health persist in Delaware, a public official said on Monday as she recalled a quote from a speech on healthcare inequity made by Martin Luther King Jr. more than 40 years ago.

The rate of baby deaths in Delaware is 2.6 times higher for blacks than for whites and blacks account for 62 percent of HIV cases in the state although the group is only 20 percent of the population, according to Karyl T. Rattay, director of the Delaware Division of Public Health.

Her comments appeared in an opinion article on Delawareonline.com.

She said that Wilmington, the state’s largest city approximately 58 percent of African American girls have an unhealthy weight compared to 40 percent of girls statewide. Statewide, one in three people will develop diabetes in their lifetimes if current trends continue, she said. That estimate is one in two for blacks and Hispanics, she added.

“The evidence is clear that racial minorities have been left behind,” she wrote.

She said root causes of health disparities included lack of education, joblessness, poverty, violence, pollution, homelessness, unhealthy homes and stress. She said her state was working to address disparities in colorectal cancer, improving access to health care for low-income families. She said her government division was working with local groups and that the state’s Gov. Jack Markell was working to address education and jobs deficiencies.

Rattay cited a 1966 speech given by King in Chicago to the 2nd National convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights.

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice is the most shocking and the most inhumane,” he said.

According to 2008 health data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Interview Survey, the percentage of people without health insurance at the time of an interview between January and March of that year was 30.4 percent Hispanic, 9.9 percent non-Hispanic white, and 17.0 percent black.